alcohol · bipolarity · depression · favorites · mental health

What My Tattoo Means (Amor fati)

flame-1024x972“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who makes things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science


I have Amor fati tattooed on my left wrist, prefaced with a semi-colon. The left wrist is where I once tested a chef’s knife to see what it would take to cut the ulnar artery. The nurses have always loved my veins; they are prominent and quick to bleed.

I was left with a scar for a few months, which has since faded. A semi-colon replaces the knife-mark. The semi-colon tattoo is reserved for those who have had suicidal ideation, or indeed, have attempted to quit their life altogether.

Two things stayed the blade. I thought of Ernest Hemingway, who eerily said, ‘I will go like my father’, he a son of a suicide. Both Hemingway and his father ultimately died during “hunting accidents”, the final flutter of dove wings and a gun’s report, but there was that one time Ernest tried to drown himself off the back of his beloved Pilar. He sank a few fathoms before thinking of his brood, and he exclaimed, “My sons!” through a mouthful of expired air. He swam to surface and gasped mightily, to live for a few more years.

Second, I thought of the Golden Gate jumper who, in a millionth of a chance, hit the water at the right angle so that his organs were saved rupture, and his lungs allowed the fortitude to breathe again. He speaks now against suicide on high school and college campuses. He is unfailingly asked, “What was your thought as you leapt?” He replies soberly: “This is a mistake.” I imagine him falling at 200mph with that his purported last thought.

I didn’t want to bleed out, close my eyes to the world weakened by a broken artery with a feeling of ultimate regret. I didn’t want to leave my sons with a father-sized hole. I chose to live.

I choose to live, amor fati.

From Marcus Aurelius: “A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.”

From Epicectus: “Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather wish that what happens happen the way it happens: then you will be happy.”

From Friedrich Nietsche: “That one wants nothing to be different, not forwards, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it…but love it.”

When the knife blade sliced into my arm, I was sure I was done living, that I couldn’t live with or without alcohol, that I was at the jumping-off point. I bled, but I didn’t bleed out. I wrapped my wrist: “This is a mistake.” I calmly stopped the flow and let the wound see air. I would later be in a hospital for a dual diagnosis of depression and alcoholism, receiving the help I desperately needed.

I am a migrating moon, a panoply of phases that come and go. “This, too, shall pass” is wisdom for my nomadic self, tugged as it is by the pulls of my head and heart. Even the New Moon, however invisible, is beautiful, as much as is the Full Moon; I am cycles of life and in my mortal cycling, love every minute.

I did a gratitude exercise: I visited my grandfathers in their respective mauseleum crypts, knelt down before the names on the walls, and whispered my thanks to them both, for my alcoholism. For my manic-depression. Through the passing of their genes, I am who I am, and having the wherewithal to accept what it is that afflicts me makes me a more intact human being. Intact comes from the French, integrite. Whole.

Amor fati. May you love your fate, too.


bipolarity · home · neighborhood · people · sobriety · writing

Restless Heart Syndrome

I have a few friends with restless leg syndrome, which is in reference to Willis-Ekbom disease. It causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them.

Not me. Although I have the urge to walk everywhere, I have diagnosed myself instead with restless heart syndrome.

Over a prosciutto and gruyere sandwich, I espy the bookstore—Verbatim—where I have looked for Denis Johnson to no avail and where a man offers me a leather coat to sell at the Hunt and Gather.

“I’m looking for forty—if I get $40, I’ll give you twenty.”

“I can try, Man,” I say, “But I’ll just give you the $40.” He has no identification because most likely he has no address. I try and sell the coat for him—he found it on the street—to no reward, and I walk on.

People with faces—it is Sunday—and like a moving Seurat painting, they dot the street, faces moving with hats and without; it is cold and people wear coats.

I am overdressed. I wear a blazer, a chartreuse shirt, purple tie, and olive peacoat. I deny the weather for the sake of being dandy, dressing for a clime not my own but boasting grandiosity as I carry the whole of the world on my shoulders. The coffee was excellent, and I am sober. Roses, they are thrown for me.

How to describe this? This feeling. When it is, you discover the combination to a lock that has been locked for years—click—how to describe this?

I write funny words in my head: “penguin dust and roman coin soup”; I call my friends with abandon and kiss the old ones, Gidget who has visited with sleeves rolled up to reveal her sleeves, ink of phoenixes and naked women.

Mhuah,” she kisses me on the lips and I say, ‘Thank you,” for it is Sunday and there’s no need for coins in the meter and my sponsor has called me.

He wears a creaking leather jacket and an Unwritten Law tee-shirt: “it’s the law of eternal recurrence,” he might’ve said,” which is amor fati, and the fact that you wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You use active, not passive voice in writing, and I write in present active in denial of the past, my restless heart my restless heart.

alcohol · bipolarity · mania · mental health


Venus is hanging off the crazy moon like a counterweight on a cuckoo clock; my sobriety is not perfect and I blame it on the stars.

This persistent dot, Venus, just hangs there, intense, and it is the sky I look at mostly, and not the ground.

4:45 in the morning, and I am out walking. Like Venus, I am a bright and shining pixel, alive and refusing to calm  down though the sun is due soon and I have only slept an hour. The plants are alive and the morning blossoms have not yet unfolded; I pass by a bookstore and the sign in the window says, ‘No Worries!’

And I have none, none at this moment, though I should; my sobriety is not perfect and I blame it on the stars.

There is a typewriter in the window of the curio shop, the keys are green, and it is the most gorgeous piece of machinery I’ve seen, so much potential and I am drawn to take a picture, this beautiful machine; I am manic, and I know it. Struck through with Stendahl’s, frightened by beauty.

Progress, not perfection, I assuage myself. Progress, and the moon proceeds to wane and Venus winks out as the sun rises.

I find a bin of free records outside a record shop, and I find a 78, the A side being ‘Girl of My Dreams’, the ‘B’ side ‘Man Comes Around’; it is too perfect and I I tuck a rose into the sleeve and promise to give it to Jenn. For I am coming around, and she is my dream girl. Coincidence is just God’s way of remaining anonymous.

I buy a cup of coffee from Jerry who, incongruously, wears a terrycloth kerchief about the mouth.

“You sick, Jerry?” I ask as he rings my brew, and he assure me he doesn’t wish this on anyone.  He is a good man, bivouacking himself among the chili dogs and cigarettes, and hiding behind a mask.

My sobriety is not perfect; I blame it on the stars.

“Thanks, Jerry,” and I sip coffee beneath the moon, which is cuckoo and half shining. There are stars, but they disappear with the sun, now rising, and I walk home past the canyon exchange and the trash cans I once memorized. Pissing in the dirt, tossing cans; my sobriquet could be etiquette, as in lack thereof, and I walk the mile home.

bipolarity · family · mania · mental health · people

My Brother

When my brother and I were young, my mom used to zip together sleeping bags on the floor in front of the television and we would watch our favorite shows while cuddled close. Battlestar Galactica, ChiPs, Happy Days, etc. We ate graham crackers with chocolate frosting.

Here is the breakdown of how we identified with our favorite TV characters:

  • Battlestar Galactica: He was Apollo; I was Starbuck.
  • CHiPs: He was Jon; I was Ponch.
  • Happy Days: He was Richie; I was The Fonz.

Polar opposites. He was the studious one, I flew by the seat of my pants, but we both got good grades. We have always been alike but very very different.

I lost touch with my brother for a long while. It’s complicated.

I was talking to my brother last night, and in the rain, because I felt compelled to call him and I stood in the drizzle while the car idled.

“If I’m taking up your time, please feel free to say so, Brother.” He was studying anatomy for his finals. He’s a good student. His wife is going into treatment for cancer; I am riding a crest of mania, currently, consistent with my diagnosis.

We swap roles of Big Brother with a kind of fluidity that is counter to our respective ages. Like we were twins, actually, and not two years apart. Romulus and Remus. I’ve always found twins wherever I go in life; suddenly it’s my own brother, which took me forty-two years to figure out.

“You ok? I know you’ve only got a few minutes to talk.” My brother has a hard test coming up. It’s a way, too, of asking myself if I’m ok. And he says, “Yes, a few” but he closes the door to his office and we spill for two hours.

He confesses his fears about his wife’s cancer; I confess my fears that my Superman persona is gonna die soon and that I hope to change into Clark Kent gracefully.

He liked Superman; I liked Lois.

And I am standing in the rain talking to my brother, and I am calm, like we were in sleeping bags again watching The Cosby Show or something, and I am crying though my voice is steady.

“Remember when…?

The story doesn’t matter. We tell stories when we’re in danger and afraid.

He liked Luke; I liked Leia.

The important thing—the important thing–is, I’ve got my brother back.

“I love you, Mike.”

“Love you, too.”

bipolarity · mania · mental health

Baby, We’ll Be Fine

There is the manic-depressive type, who is perhaps, the least understood by his friends, and about which a whole chapter could be written.

—William D. Silkworth, MD

“You sound calmer this time,” Derek says.

“Now that I know what I’m dealing with, and I’m not throwing ethanol onto the fire. Three years running, like clockwork.”

Bill says: “Where are you, Buddy?” and he draws a Bell curve on the tablecloth with his finger. “Are you cresting? Pinkie swear to me that if you start coming down, you send me an SOS. You call them bread crumbs, I think.”

I pinkie swear. I’m high, top of the bell.

Marilyn adds, motherly: “You’ve got a doctor to help you, and maybe just a tweak of the meds. She points to her own chest, decorated with broch: “Dear, you’re doing fine.” And she drags her cigarette and pats me on the arm.

Jemm says: “Thank you for helping me today. I say: “Henry James had three rules: 1) Be Kind; 2) Be Kind; 3) Be Kind. Thank you for helping ME by letting me help you, Jemm.

I say to Lauren, who upon me entering the Alano says she wants to photograph me because I’m like four pieces of fresh dry-cleaning with a two-day old coif; I say, “Don’t. I’m already too grandiose as is.”

I’m learning. Progress, not perfection. And although I don’t sleep well, I sit here with my chemistries while I should be sitting in bed, thinking at least of sleep, hoping maybe for some, thinking: “Man, I just caught everything, didn’t I,” as if bipolarity is something norovirus, something you can blow away in a Kleenex, something if not a discarded tissue, we can at least leave crumpled on the kitchen counter.

So I start telling myself stories. Like Cheever says, “When I find myself in danger—caught on a ski-lift stuck in a blizzard—I immediately start telling myself stories.”

I say: “Baby.”

I say: “Baby, we’ll be fine.”

bipolarity · favorites · mania · mental health · people


man-remains-calm-and-stands-ground-in-intense-showdown-with-charging-elephant“If you need a rooftop, Buddy, I’m your guy. Game recognizes game.”

Bill is cooly draped over his chair, lengthy limbs like tributaries of an oceanic torso, oceanic in that it is at once broad and seemingly charged, and he is wearing an athletic Henley which emphasizes his swimmer’s build. He is sixty, but a Paul Newman sixty, just with a longer face, lips drawn over his front teeth in a manner that suggests he’s wearing a mouthguard at all times, a pugilist in repose, and to that effect, he dons a beanie drawn low over his brow, which he wears indoors, his eyes beneath something of perambulation while he is thinking, the chair he sits in too small for him or he too tall for it, and everything looking like he is about to speak.

“Game recognizes game,” Bill repeats in a genteel fashion that betrays his Southern roots. He shifts casually, legs crossed far away and at the ankle. Absently, he scratches his left pectoral and leans back in his seat, mouth puckered in self-satisfaction, nodding. The way Bill speaks: there is an antebellum quality to it, vaguely rhotic, with an emphasis sometimes on first syllables. His vowels are glideless and how people end their interrogatives with a rising intonation, Bill seems to end every sentence in an almost evaporative fashion, his words like dissipating steam. He gives the constant impression that he is marveling something, the way his exclamations are half larynx, half lung.

“You looked like you were mad-doggin’ me from across the room,” Bill later says, chuckling, and it’s true that in group session I often try to telepath William from my own position in the circle, there being something unspoken between us, a matching vulnerability, and he always catches my eye without ever looking at me directly–neither indirectly for that matter. We share a tacit acknowledgement regardless. It’s said that plant roots sometimes speak to each other in subsonic intimations, what exists underground amounting to a subterranean Babel, but the language Bill and I share is more altitudinal, far and above the ground, why Bill mentions rooftops. When he was a kid, Bill would climb a tree to its highest point, the point being to just sit as high as he could, ignoring his mother’s entreaties to come down. As an adult, the trees could be overhead waves twice his swimmer’s skillset, or speeding white river waters, and I don’t know if he’s a billy-goat but I’d imagine scarps of mountainous basalt, too; insurmountable things made assailable, else reckless situations he’d simply reclassify as ‘adventurous’. These look-God-in-the-face type undertakings–‘status quo’ he’d call it–constant elevation with the sidewalk unfamiliar.

“I haven’t had a rooftop recently,” I confess—we hug—and it’s true, the stars are recently far away. It was last year when I knew what Bill knows, and I knew it in a noradrenal way, not an adrenal one, were one to consider the brain a cloud and the volley of neurons flashes of coruscation, unlikely and all-directions lightning. I talked too loud then, I talked too fast; where Bill’s voice is soothing, long in the vowels, mine was rapid-fire, my decisions as fast, impetuous.  Sleep was an inconvenience: I’d have missed the light show where the fulgurations of brain-sparks were like a million wax candles encapsulated in tiny glass globes, my own Rue de Montmartre of serotonin street lamps. It was all light, in luminescence and in velocity, wattage and speed. Every day was the best day and how could I close my eyes? The light show, after all, would still have been there—it existed behind my eyelids.

I texted my friend one night imploring him to look at the stars, ‘John Oh my God the sky’, and were it the fact of the sky I don’t know, or simply the great sheet of the universe acting as a convenient mirror to my synaptic goings-on, but I felt compelled to fold myself into the velvet divinity of the moment, if the sky a cathedral ceiling, one that I could touch with outstretched hand. The stars, however, were frustratingly distant, our prescient connection interrupted by the inopportune placement of a heaven between us. I placed John in my pocket and looked around the backyard. A rusted patio chair appeared suddenly as makeshift Jacob’s Ladder and, with caution something of an afterthought, I mounted the back of the chair to hoist myself onto the garage roof. I half-jumped from the backrest and found handhold on the tarpaper shingles, legs dangling and chair toppled backwards. Elbow by elbow, I pulled myself onto the roof, maybe a mere eight feet off the ground, quixotically but somehow satisfyingly closer to the stars. I flopped onto my back and tucked myself close to the attic, soon the constellated sky and the insides of my eyelids one in the same, a communion of pinpoints where the fireworks of my brain matched the cosmos, me asleep, smiling, with the moon on my chest. I set to snoring.

“No—I haven’t had a rooftop in a while, Bill,” I admit, and in saying so, feeling very much like a burnt match. “But I heard you in meeting today,” and I pull out my phone. “Even wrote it down: ‘Anxiety is the bellwether.’”

“Ho-ho-ho, Thom,” Bill’s eyes widen, “That’s right. The surf advisory is up and let me just say”—he nudges me with a shoulder—”my affairs are in order.” He claps his hands and rubs his palms together. He giggles, too, which always seems odd counterpoint to his sighing drawl, not quite a blemish but a fleck in his otherwise mahogany.

Bill intends to go swimming, and it’s the kind of water that demands a skillset, which he—in his broad chest—seems to encompass, still it’s the anxiety that is enervating and which, more than the machine of his body, is better part to his adventurousness, the ‘bellwether’ as he puts it which indicates the ocean is his for the taking. “I’m not reckless,” he always clarifies, one finger extended, “I’m never reckless.” What Bill knows is that anxiety is chemical twin to excitement, and when given to invulnerability, you answer every call.

Bill, mind you, is not an adrenaline junkie. Bill is not a thrill-seeker. Bill just knows that once you’re running at breakneck speed down a mountain, dodging skree, without looking at your feet, that it’s impossible to fall. This is not looking to feel alive—this is simply being alive, how it is. There’s a difference. Existential. Chemical.

Bill leans in, conspiratorially: “I’ll tell you what,” and he pronounces the ‘h’ of ‘what’ like a celluloid cowboy, “You weren’t here last week, but the counselors got on me, said I should maybe be seeing someone, medications—y’know the whole lot, like they was needing to take down a charging elephant.”

I think of the blue pills I’ve been taking the past half year, the ones that took the stars away. “Well, all that’s needed to stop a charging elephant, Bill, is for someone to stand stock still in front of it,” I say. “Elephants respond to fearlessness.”

“I like that, Thom, I like that,” Bill muses. He leans in close again. “They don’t get it. This is the reality, the status quo.” Bill smiles self-assuredly, and I envy him. The brain is a restrictive organ, the manuals written on its workings necessarily more restrictive, and to be like Bill in this minute, to counter what could be considered an episode—“I’m bipolar as fuck” Bill has told me—to own one’s mania as preferred and higher conscience, is to not so much be a charging elephant in need of the takedown, as to be one in need of the letting alone. Bill shakes God’s hand on the regular; it would be anathema to shake out a daily scrip. Bill’d lose God’s address.

I think to a doctor I recently had, we were seated side by side in utile chairs, no office, the only two people in the hallway of a residential facility, and it was a long way from the rooftop, an even longer way from the stars.

“So,” he said, reviewing my chart, “You’re on a mood stabilizer, but no antidepressant.” He stroked his beard in doctoral fashion while helicoptering his pen over the paper.

“The last psychiatrist wanted to treat my hypomania,” I offered as explanation. The hallway was appropriately sterile, purposefully washed of color, nothing too excitable and everything suggestive of interior. It made me feel similarly taupe, were I myself a color. This was probably the intended effect, but when, however, you’re used to feeling orange or gold or yellow—any Crayola more vibrant—taupe may as well be proof of your erasure.

“When you were manic,” the doctor asked, “Did you go on massive spending sprees?”


Engage in reckless sexual behavior?”


“Endanger yourself regularly?”


“What were your symptoms?” he asked finally.

I thought about being a charging elephant crashing through the savannah; the fact that momentum increases given greater mass, greater velocity; that I could endlessly multiply myself by operating in the forces at my disposal, by merely moving in transfer. I thought about exploding my own environs, the way the elephant kicks up the ground in four-legged run. I thought about being comfortable, hurtling forward, in my own bulletproof and elephant skin. But I said nothing to that effect.

“I was happy,” I finally settled on. “Every day was the best day.”

The doctor leaned back in his chair and clicked his pen. “Well, he said, clipping his ‘l’s in a Punjab accent, “There’s nothing wrong with being a little happy from time to time.” He took momentary pause, then scratched out a line in my chart.

“I think we can find something more agreeable to your situation.”

Bill dons an upholstered vest on his way out the door, with a fur lined collar that is faux angora—he sometimes wears this with shirt sleeves, which is wild—and, as is custom, dips his shoulder slightly when exiting the room. It’s as if he’s displacing the universe necessary to his departure. He wears flip-flops.

“Game recognizes game….”

I follow shortly afterwards, drafting Bill as it were, though without as much brio, my ensemble consisting of spent match black and sensible shoes. I walk out into the parking lot where the lights are the kind that leach the color from the cars. The stars are barely perceptible, and even were they present—face-of-God present—I can’t find the matching cosmos in my head. I close my eyes momentarily and hope that the nothing I see is just intermissive rest, that the light show will 3-2-1 restart, and soon. But my eyelids refuse to act as screens, and instead return to being the simple shutters they otherwise were. I shrug, and, Buddha on a biscuit, it’s all I can do in the minute. The sky, after all–as the parking lot lights serve to accentuate–has presently gone out.

Oh, Bill, I smile as I get into my car, my genteel friend. I imagine him following the bellwether tomorrow, he cooly acting out his magnificence, and were that bell available to my ear,

I’d probably not pursue it to his lengths, but our affinity is there, and if ever there a rooftop to share with the sky begging a need closer, I know the guy who happens to have God’s address.











bipolarity · mania · mental health


Early in his career, Dr. Oliver Sacks treated a patient with Tourette’s Syndrome. The patient–let’s call him Brian–was afflicted with both physical and verbal tics. Brian had difficulties holding a job, and didn’t fare well socially. He, however, had minimal success as both a table-tennis player and part-time jazz drummer. When playing ping-pong, he’d tic and manage unexpected shots that his opponents couldn’t return. Similarly, when he was behind a drum kit, Brian would spasm, hit a hi-hat unexpectedly, else suddenly change meter on the snare; he would have to improvise off his “mistakes” and dynamically shift his fellow players into different and sublimative direction.

Dr. Sacks treated Brian with L-Dopa, the same drug he used with Parkinson’s patients. L-Dopa served to manage the tics and Brian was able to find gainful employment, maintain social relationships. Still, Brian lamented, his table tennis game was mediocre, his jazz drumming flatter. Wistfully, he missed his disease and its overcompensations. He felt he was missing part of himself.

Dr. Sacks adjusted his treatment. Brian was allowed to come off his drug on weekends so that he could tic again, and relinquish his jazz drumming, table-tennis playing other life. During the week, he would return to L-Dopa so that he could function at his job and operate normally.

I related Brian’s story during therapy this week. I’m bipolar, so take prescribed medication to mediate the too-highs, the too-lows. I wish to God I was unipolar, with only mania to address, but I’m not. My highs are paired with lows; sometimes I’m so happy, I climb atop the roof to be closer to the stars. Sometimes I’m so low, the stars extinguish themselves behind closed eyelids and I’m prone for hours, days. I can’t do part-time medication and I have to face the fact that I’m willfully taking pills to prohibit me from mania, my ultimate undistilled happiness. It’s a cruel joke that my best happiness exists in psychosis, but it is what it is. Time to improvise better on the jazz drum, to fashion a new shot with the table tennis paddle. I can do this. 

bipolarity · depression · home · mental health · neighborhood · people

Starlings in the Slipstream

Outside the Store, cowbirds and starlings dot the pavement, scavenging crumbs as they would other birds’ nests, ekeing out existence as robbers and cowards.

The starling was introduced into North America by a courtier of the English language, a patron of the arts who released two of every bird mentioned in Shakespearean language into Central Park as homage to the quill. The starlings proliferated and flew in murmurations across the country, gathering in numbers, thieving nests as they went.

And now they’re on the patio outside where, against better judgement, I toss them shreds of tortilla and watch as they look at me expectantly with varied colors of eyes.

“What do you have for me?”

“Are you my friend?”

And they’ll probably fly away with sated belly to fight a mockingbird—and you don’t fuck with mockingbirds—but they’ll do it anyway, just evolutionary subsistence and existence, the two sometimes being the same.

In the canyon, in the morning, I wait for the woodpecker to announce itself, rapping its head against the eucalyptus; I also watch the crows and wait for the hummingbirds. I’m depressed. I’m at the nadir of my bipolarity and I’m waiting for the lift, which is an exercise in patience, just like watching birds.

I’ve tried to describe this, but words fail, so I throw my tortilla crumbs to thieves and watch their rapid eyes dart as if in some cautious thankfulness.

What is wrong with me? I commune with the crows and the alley cats on my daily walks, hug the plants. I have made friends with the homeless people I meet, crouching down to talk to them, listening to their stories while they wait for sunshine and for the stores to open. My friend Doug—he says—I look better, right? And he gestures to his beard which actually is trimmed smarter than mine, and I give him knucks and we pore over the morning paper.

The other day I found Doug crying, and it wasn’t because of his situation or his friends downtown (which he’s told me in detail about), but because National City is now passing out carts to homeless people so there’s no more necessary thievery of grocery carts downtown, so that starlings of people can stop robbing Vons and Ralph’s of their carriages, and he reads this all in the morning paper. He offers to buy me a steak with his EBT. He is a good man.

I’m depressed. Doug points out the G7 conference on A-1, and I blanch. It’s hard for me to deal in this new world, and someone so used to Orwell, Huxley, DeLillo, and Wallace.

The can collector on 31st offers me a good morning and I’m happy to oblige a return. His life is harder than mine. He asks for a light, and I have some matches from Doug. The guy opens an Altoids can to demonstrate some effeminately-wrapped joints, and I light one for him as he roots around the cannisters. We all need our comfort.

Starlings in the slipstream. Starlings like a daydream. We can all exist and subsist and all at once. Love each other. Be thieves of love and murmurating participants in a bustle of wings. Love, and love.

bipolarity · city · Delaney · mania · neighborhood

Dear Delaney (1)

Dear Delaney:

1) The day begins in the devil’s rain, and I am bodhisattva outside and my kid is spinning in it while my other one crawls into my lap on my perch on the porch.
2) I help walk Nic’s dogs and I take her into the canyon. She has a hummingbird tattooed on her right forearm and I want to show her the baby hummingbird that just learned to fly. They’re her spirit animal, and the dogs run around the canyon and we speak poetry sitting in a think spot while having coffee and the two hawks are there in attendance.
3) I chat with Elaine and it’s gotten to where we finish each other’s sentences and we share writings back and forth.
4) I have a great date with Frances Hap-Top. (she’s my laptop) I write prose with a stopwatch as challenge. I make beauty in ten minutes; I make beauty despite my name being writ on water, and with there being a need for permanence.
5) I meet Sara at Thorn St. and it’s like we’re new old friends, and we have some Japanese lager and chat furiously and I’m able to close out my tab while still sober, and I go home to where I’ve decorated the house in clippings of yarrow and lavender and where my wife is home.
6) Our friend Gary sends me menus and today I got the prize from Gary’s venture at Robuchon; Sara does the same thing: all this collecting of cookbooks and menus and today I scribble down suggestions for Ottolenghi; she collects Lucky Peach just like the t-shirt Gary sent me from Momofuku, but despite her husband being a chef doesn’t know Ottolenghi so I underscore the titles she needs to buy.
7) I bathe with charcoal and pine tar. I have a shrimp burrito with griddled cheese and chipotle mayonnaise. I have a burger with avocado and jalapenos, bacon and mushrooms. I know you appreciate the details.
8) I go see the Globetrotters with Cayde. Not sure if you’re aware of them, but they are the best. Cayde signals to me that the courtside seats are unsold, so we spend the last half of the show in the front row and high-five all the players. You’d totally dig this Delaney since you could do back-flips off a bar-top, but they set up a trsmpoline in front of a backboard and did somersaults and forward flips while shooting dunks. I yelled till I was hoarse.
9) I wrote part of a song today and am going to collaborate with my musician friends to grow it.
10) I make coffee for Jenn and sit with her as she applies makeup. “You’re the love of my life,” I say; “You’re the fucking story of mine,” she says, as we kiss in the rain.
11) Nic tells me a funny joke: “How do you tell when a blonde’s having a bad day?”……””When there’s a tampon behind her ear and she can’t find her pencil.” I know you’d find that funny. I tell Nic what Freud says about laughter, that it’s the id breaking through.
12) I go on a late night walk and get some ginger bee from Ricardo and we discuss cooking and the proper way to make a stesk. We shake hands compadre.
13) My cat keeps waking up my kid with her yowls; she wants my attention.

It was the best day, Delaney. Thought you should know. Love you, my Friend. Wings out and xo.

bipolarity · city · mania · mental health · neighborhood


;Life is good on the right-hand side of the semicolon. Writing and talking and knowing everyone in the neighborhood by name. But I like quiet, and I enter into a canyon every morning just past sunrise and watch the birds. My neighbors include two ferruginous hawk, which the crows bother; a hummingbird family; a score of mourning doves; and twittersome warblers that bounce around the logs as if on fire.

Today my feet hurt so bad from my job that I limped up the canyon, but I wouldn’t miss it: the sunrise, the early morning scavenge, the minutes I take just being present.

I’m up at 3:30 most mornings, still rested, and make my wife coffee, have 5:30 a.m. conversations with my son Cayde. It’s all commune with my own small galaxy, me and the twittery warblers; my kid and me.

“Good morning, Steve.”

“How are you, Thom?” replies the shopkeeper.

“Fantastic as always.”

“Good to hear.”

We exchange greetings as much as we do currency, and—in this life—the courtesies are more important.