Maybe it’s something in the air, a melody carried along by the summer breeze, lost except for a fragment brushed along the contours of your ear as it plays by before it disappears forever. Perhaps it’s interest carried over on arguments both won and lost over the course of the last decade. When hopelessness encounters its own justifications, it can be nearly impossible to shake it loose again. I wish that I could say that this was some fleeting shred of melancholy tickling up against the edges of my perceptions, but this has been pulling us down, drawing us in for quite some time now, our failures falling into one another, collapsing into a singularity which we cannot escape. Now, I do know that this feels worse because of everything that’s been going on, but it makes me wonder if we’ll manage to survive it this time. I’m not saying that neither of us has managed to avoid having earned our respective blame, but this seems to be an overwhelming pattern in my life. I thought that I had managed to break the cycle of my failures when Flor and I got together. She was supposed to be the one to save me from myself. She was supposed to be the chosen one. Instead, it seems that I’ve managed to corrupt her, poison her beauty as it seems that only I can do, and ruin my chance for salvation through the simple act of being me.
I may have mentioned, a time or two before, that I’m not the easiest person to be around. I mean, in small doses, I’m clever and charming, seductive and sweet, snarky and sincere, but that’s because I’m careful to only let out certain aspects of my wicked and warped damage at a time, so as not to drive off the handful of people I seem to keep around to keep from going completely ’round the bend, cut off from what little human I can consciously tolerate, but apparently require. Living with me seems to bring out the worst in people, or, rather, allows me the privilege of doing it myself. The person who most everybody knows is just a fiction that I’ve lived with since I discovered that it made my life significantly simpler, but even I can’t keep the act up every hour of every day. I need a large quantity of down time before I can put on the mask again, and when I walk in through my front door, the first thing that I do is tear away the pretense and the happiness before it suffocates me. I am mostly content to live a sedentary life, punctuated with random meaningful events, but the rest of the time, I think that I would prefer the company of no one but myself. You know, I really thought that I could do it this time. That by ignoring all the signals which had informed me that the woman who was to be my wife would be woefully ill-equipped to help me destroy myself, and therefore exactly the person who I had to make sure was in my life.
And yet it seems that I cannot stand happiness. It makes me feel cut off from myself. I’ve never learned to let things go, and I have to be right, no matter the cost. It isn’t important to me that time will usually vindicate me, I have to win the argument. Instead of letting my wife pull me up out of the quagmire of the life I seem to have been destined for, I seem to have only torn her down, ripped her apart bit by bit, and shaped her into not only the perfect nemesis, but molded her into a bitter image of myself (which may seem redundant to the few people who have known me since before I learned to hide myself behind the act that I’ve been living for almost the entirety of my adult life). She deserves someone who will build her up, be there for her when she needs someone, and never be a burden around her neck. I have asked her almost weekly for the past nine years if she has faith in me, and every time she answers yes, it takes her a little longer, and she’s less able to contain her disbelief. I think that she only gave me her blessing to embark on this crusade because she knew that I would either make it happen, or I’d wind up worse off for having tried and failed, at which point she could cut her losses and be rid of me forever.
Of course, I’m only able to see what I want to see, read the narrative which I am capable of understanding. You see, it’s easier for me if I can say that we’re arch-nemeses, so that when she finally tires of my bullshit, I can nurture enmity in the place where fondness and love once dwelled to cover for the fact that once again I have become irrevocably broken by my inability to do what must be done, to manage to get the important things done right. I would die for her one thousand times without a moment’s hesitation, or David, or my grandchildren, or even my daughter, who is so much like me that it still confuses me how we aren’t genetically connected, but I cannot bring myself to live for them. Sure, I’ve made an effort, though some would say too little, too late. I just find that I cannot be the person who I would like to be. If I was a better man, I might pack up and leave here in the middle of the night, cut my ties and let those I love begin the process of getting over having known me. I’ve always been far better in theory than in practice, and as a cautionary tale, I’d probably even make a better father. I guess the reason that I haven’t boils down to cowardice, and the hope that maybe I can get it right in time.
I don’t want to give you the wrong idea, and make you think that I am feeling better, but I’m no longer looking at oncoming traffic with a sense of longing in my eyes. Of course, to look at traffic, one would actually have to go outside, so I don’t know how positive a development it really is. I seem to have found a handful of minutes when the crushing weight of sadness seems to have taken the time to smoke a cigarette outside my door. I would have thought that after decades of dealing with this, it would have gotten at least a little easier, but the only thing that I seem to have learned how to do is see when the melancholia is coming, so that I can wait for it with a growing sense of dread. There’s nothing quite like staring down the barrel of your imminent self-destruction while strapped into an office chair which has been kicked down a hallway directly toward your doom. At least I know what’s going on now. When I was a kid, it felt like the world suddenly became a dark and distant place, and I couldn’t even think about what might have been causing it.
It’s difficult to know what’s been a normal reaction to the impossibility of the situation in which I have placed myself, and what is just the expected dysfunction of my self-perception. I’d like to believe that it was all in my head, and that things weren’t so bad as they appeared to be, but there’s also a decent chance that I may have backed myself into a corner, and this current break with reality is simply my brain’s way of coping with the spectacular mess that I have made of things. It’s been a hell of a ride, though. Aside from those times when I feel like I am drowning in a world without a single drop of water, I have no regrets about the choices I have made. It merely appears that I have run out of time, because I do not know how to do things any faster. But I’ve managed to realize (at least, partially) a dream that I have had for nearly thirty years. And if someone can look through these ramblings tinged with madness, and find some measure of comfort in them, feel that they are not alone in what they feel. Maybe someone will see these words, and come to understand what’s going on with someone whom they love.
Seven Hours Later…
It’s perhaps a measure of arrogance to think that I could change or help the world. I mean, I can’t even figure out how to be a good dad; how am I supposed to help people I care even less about? Maybe it’s easier to care about someone in the abstract, kind of like reverse racism. If you never get to know someone, become intimately familiar with all their flaws, maybe it’s easier to believe the best about them. I suppose, then, that I’ve blown all chance of that with all of you over these past five months. But at least maybe someday my son can look back at these words, either because I have, against all odds, become successful, or perhaps because I have long since passed away and he is looking for answers as to why. I guess that means that I should get back to work on the quarterly versions of this blog, as I don’t know for how long after I expire that I will be able to maintain this site. Unless Fed or Bad Leon Suave decide to keep it up and running, as some sort of digital memorial to me.
Okay, enough of the morbid thoughts and dreams. I took a break of several hours precisely because I wanted to avoid another 1,000 words of sheer mopery. I’ve been trying to think of funny ways to describe all of this nonsense, but the best I seem to be able to manage is a bitter chuckle here and there, mostly at my own expense, and for my own… well, for lack of a better word. amusement. I really am kind of done with wanting to ever feel like this again. I used to almost relish when the darkness came. Of course, that was in my teens and early twenties, when being dark and brooding was a surefire way to attract the ladies. Except that it never really did. But it became so comfortable, the twisting agony of anguish. Now I’m just irritated because I have better things to do. I want to be writing, both on the novel and here on the blog, and for the blog, I don’t want to simply be rehashing the same old miseries time and time again. I would much prefer to go on rants once more about iniquities and things that piss me off.
I know that all of this will pass. It has every other time, so I don’t know why this should be any exception. If it weren’t for that damnable clock which keeps on ticking in the background, I think that it might not even seem so bad. I suppose the one upside to all of this is that it feels like for the first time in our nine years together, my wife finally seems to be taking all of this seriously. I don’t mean to sound critical; if you haven’t really gone through something like this, it’s pretty hard to wrap your head around. Before, she just wanted me to “get over it,” and that was that. This time, however, I feel like she can really see that something’s wrong, and, though there’s not much that she can do, she truly wants to help. Of course, it could just be that she wants to help make me well again so that she can lay the smack down on a moving target (otherwise it’s probably just not as fun). Like when you send a Death Row inmate to the infirmary just days before you’re scheduled to execute him.
No, but my wife has actually been amazing this past week, and I honestly don’t know what I would have done all of these past years without her. I guess now that it’s just a matter of trying on a stiff upper lip, and attempting to face the world again. I’ll let you know how it goes.
It’s way too late at night, and I cannot get to sleep. I don’t mind going ’round the bend if I’m creatively insane, but this wandering around in apathetic madness is for the birds. It just feels so blah. So I’ve decided to perform a little experiment to measure the effects of sadness on the insomniac psyche. I would much rather be fine-tuning my short story, but unless something changes in my head before I go to sleep, the best I can do is pound out some abstract nonsense and say that it was done on purpose. It used to be a matter of just altering perception, but I’m a father and grandfather now, so how would that kind of narcissistic, hedonistic behavior look? I miss going on adventures, both in time and space and within my mind. I miss staying awake until the wee hours and making candles dance, chasing off the Beasties with a magick word or two. I guess what I’m trying to get across is that the world just seems so two-dimensional now that I’ve grown older, the colors are all muted, and vibrancy is something which I barely can remember. It’s too bad they changed the formula for NyQuil, or I could relive my glory days once more while stumbling through the streets of Not Quite Richmond, California.
I guess what I really miss is feeling like I am tapping into something larger than myself. I remember wandering around the Island late at night with Fed beneath the purple skies of clouds sailing o’er the Witching Hour. We used to walk miles, with no thought of aching muscles, or tired feet, and just talk for hours until we finally passed out. We drank shitty beer in graveyards with my girlfriend, and wrote songs which I was convinced would be my ticket out of obscurity, but which don’t even exist outside my mind anymore. We gave a demo tape to one of our friends, but she lost it soon after. Not that we would have made it as a live band. Fed was good, but I could barely find a steady rhythm, let alone keep it, and the two and a half chords which I could play still required thought before I could change between them. I did love recording with him, though. I remember when we were working on one of his songs, Compass Rose, and he made me take a walk outside because he felt self-conscious about his voice. I never recorded with Bad Leon, though we’ve talked about instrumental backing to my angry love poetry.
What am I doing here? I’ve managed to accomplish exactly nothing in my time since I left work, at least nothing which will make me any money. It wasn’t so bad being destitute when I was living on my own, but as I said just a few days ago, that’s not really going to cut it with my wife and son. I just hate the dichotomy of being me. I shut off this artistic part of me for so long that I don’t know if he is ever coming back. I suppose that until November of last year, I could have described my artistic self as Schrödinger’s Wordsmith: both extant and extinct. But now Pandora’s Box is open, and I’ve had the misfortune to peek inside. What terrifies me most is the thought that it’s not just institutionalized apathy; that it’s simply a matter of me not having what it takes to do this for a living. That my lifelong dream is never destined to be more than just a hobby. I think of all the stories which are running around inside my head, and I am screaming silently at myself for not doing a damned thing about them. Every time I try to write, I go in with the notion that I’ll only screw everything up, and then manage to stay true to my word.
I can feel the fires burning just beneath my eyes, and the anxiety throbbing beneath my skin. And yet it’s all held down snugly beneath a blanket of exhaustion. I want to touch the energy of youth once more, even if it’s only for a day. To have the knowledge that the world is mine, and there’s nothing that can stop me. I used to know that I would change the world, but somewhere in my twenties, I managed to lose sight of that. And now, because I cannot even encourage myself to do what I love most because I lack the discipline required to work for myself, I’m going to have to shove myself back into that tiny box without even the reassurance that I’ll unpack myself again. This was my shot. This was the last batch of courage I could muster, and I couldn’t get it done. I was so excited when it dawned on me to rewrite that bloody story. I thought that if it was good enough, if I was good enough, I could use the momentum I had built and hop tracks to something of a slightly longer format. If I cannot even get excited about the crap that I am writing, what makes me think that someone will pay money for it?
Welcome to the Pity Party. If I ran for office, I would have to run with them. We’re not much to look at, but we’re sort of attached… to us. Is it like this for everyone? Do other writers get halfway into something which they’re pouring themselves into (enjoying it along the way), and then just throw their notebook down, and scream, “Bullshit!” at the walls? Not that it really matters. Reality, it seems, has finally caught up with me. Who thought that this could last forever? What is it going to take for me to get this figured out? I wish there was a desert I could visit, or rolling hills which I could roam at night while screaming at the wind, and howling at the moon or clouded sky. More than anything, I want to have a little garden where I can grow tomatoes and chili peppers. I want to find excuses not to write so that I can just hang out in the garden and dig my fingers into soil and pretend that I’m alive. Which, to be honest, is a little weird, because I’m not that into vegetables. I guess I just like to see things grow.
I’m looking at the word count and realizing that if I could have just gotten in the flow while I was working on that stupid story, I might almost be close to done by now. I don’t know what the holdup is, to be completely honest. I know the story, almost like I was actually there. Almost. And even if it wasn’t burned into my brain, I have the story which I wrote half my life ago, which kind of lays the whole thing out for me. I even managed to solve the roadblock in the text which had been bothering me since I started to rewrite it. It was an elegant solution, altering the exposition slightly to turn it into dialogue. Maybe what’s killing it is that I’m trying to do too much. I remembered that I’d also written a story called Nic Buzz around the same time, though not a single copy of the original remains, and that since that revelation, I’ve been trying to figure out how to squeeze it into what I’m already trying to do. I would just jump right back into where I’ve left off, setting aside that notion for a little while, but every time I try to get myself back into it, I find that story which I have no idea how it went has left a giant hole just beyond the words which I have written. Like always, my cardinal sin appears to be overthinking everything.
So what’s a boy to do? I’m beating back exhaustion with silken bat wings thrumming in the dark of night, and only my tenacity is driving these words from within the whispers in my head through my fingers, and onto the screen before me. I want to just curl up into a little ball of safety, and sleep until the necessity of the real world has expired. There has never been a problem too large, in my opinion, that it cannot be slept away. But I know that this time I cannot simply ignore the demands of my responsibilities. This time I have got to make it work somehow. Both Bad Leon and my wife think that the answer is in brain-dead work, like a cashiering job or line cook, which I can leave at the door when my shift is over, and then come home with enough energy to write. But I have been in management too long to think that that’s an option anymore. If I’m going to work for someone who isn’t me, then I need to be in control of at least some of the variables in my working life. I despise working for people less qualified than me, and if I’m going to climb the ladder, I’d prefer to start somewhere closer to the top. It’s not that I haven’t worked my way up before, just that there’s a limit to just how much crap that I can deal with while I’m trying to get ahead.
Maybe I’ll stop writing this, and work on something more productive, like a love letter to Death. Courting the Grim Reaper has always been my secret ambition. Well, I don’t know if it’s still a secret if you tell everyone you meet, but I haven’t, until now, broadcasted my desire to the entire world. Some thought experiment that this turned out to be. More like a convoluted pep talk for someone who isn’t listening. But at least that I know that words are flowing once again, and though it’s true that the narrative voice between the story and the blog are slightly different, tonally, it’s still me who’s rambling on, and that should count for something. Maybe I could pop in the part about Applesauce and Abby, or that time when Crys and I almost died because she was way too drunk to drive. Or how her daughter stole those beers from us, which we had stolen first (or so the story goes, if I’m to retain plausible deniability), just so that she could share them with her stupid friends that weren’t us. Of course, if I get in too deep, I’ll just have to go ahead and write the book that I know that I’m not ready to tackle yet. I should probably get started before too long, before all my memories have dissipated, but there’s something which I want to do stylistically, which I know that I’m not quite good enough to actually pull off. At least, not yet.
I can’t believe I’ve written almost two thousand words in just an hour and a half. Turns out that when I’m typing at almost the speed of thought, I can get something accomplished. And now the thought has bubbled up which I want nothing more than to ignore, which is that I should really sit down and read this for the podcast version. Except that the calm and collected voice which is narrating this between my ears won’t sound nearly as impressive if it has to pass my vocal cords. I guess the audio version of this will just have to wait until I get around to it, which, knowing me, is probably somewhere close to never. And here I thought that I would wind up arguing the point with a little bit more passion. I suppose that the time has come for me to get back to work on that thing which I really wanted to be doing. Now if only I could manage saying that with even a modicum of sincerity, I’d be set. Just one more thing before I go: In the comments for this post (or on Facebook or Twitter), please let me know which of these photos you prefer for the cover image.
Somehow I seem to have maintained my zen-like state for the duration of the afternoon. To be honest, I am just the slightest bit impressed. Normally it takes me nearly forever and a day to calm myself when I have blown my top. Rage is just the flip side of depression, and if there’s anything I’m really good at, it’s being mopey as hell, sometimes for days on end. But today, after the incident with the grasshopper in the parking lot, I felt a level of serenity which I’m normally not accustomed to. I brushed aside all of the frustration and disappointment, and sat down to get back to work. I couldn’t get back exactly to where I’d been before, but the ideas were still there in my head, and I just had to trust that I could get them out again. Sure, they weren’t as beautiful as what had come before, and each near-miss, a tiny stab of heartache, but I stayed with it and managed to get it down, If I’m being honest, though, my favorite part of that entire piece was the epilogue, and that was mainly because it had almost nothing to do with what I’d (failed to have) written. Plus, it either made me look a little more or a little less deranged, depending on how one might view a bald coincidence.
But enough jabs at my lack of hair: it’s time to focus back upon the very best parts of me. I seemed to have discovered a surefire way to find my center in the middle of a storm, and the best part of it is that it only requires a pack of cigarettes and endless supply of grasshoppers. I used to be able to more easily access my happy place, but years and years of falling back in the face of a constant barrage of disappointment and injustice have made it nearly impossible to find. It’s hard to keep an upward glance when you’re caught out in the rain, and by staring at my feet, I’ve missed everything else around me. Pleasant thoughts, like summer breeze, lift upward due to warmth, and the only ones which sink below are scuttled by the chill of sadness driven down by winter winds. Simple serenity, I’ve found, can be discovered in the smallest things, just waiting to be seen. It’s just a matter of letting all the screeching ego simply fade away, and learn to view the world through the eyes of a child again.
I’ve spent the last several years drowning the innocence inside of me, hoping to find the answers I’ve been seeking in the cold reason of adulthood. But all that’s gotten me is an unending stream of stress and misery. In trading youth for understanding, I’ve been left with neither, and the only thing that I can figure is that I’ve gotten it all wrong. The happiest I’ve ever been was when I was still a child, and my whole life lay in front of me, with nothing but endless possibilities as far as I could see. Every day was a new adventure, inspiring me again. From astronaut to baseball player to astrophysicist, each new bit of information launching me ever forward. And through it all, I always knew that I would one day write about it. That was the constant through every other dream: that no matter what I did, I did it so that I would have something I could write about. And as the years marched on, and my options began to thin, much as my hair would in the years which (shortly) followed, so too did my primary dream begin to fade. With every drop in probability, the joy and hope which once defined me continued to recede. Eventually all that was left was the memory of who I used to want to be when I managed to grow up. It never occurred to me to think that growing up would rob me of the very best parts of me.
A single leaping grasshopper in the middle of a parking lot. A man rapidly arriving at the end of what little rope that he’s got left. A thing of beauty, never seen, lost forever in a digital world gone mad. Tensions within the man’s apartment are written on the walls in large, swirling, angry letters spelling in out in great detail each and every slight and misstep committed by the occupants. The smell of hopelessness now permeates the air, the byproduct of the late-night arguments and fading faith in one another. Seven lives, hanging in the balance, each one counting on the other, and disbelieving them, even so. Like animals roaming restlessly, trapped within their cage, these now-empty husks of once fully realized people pace about, bumping into one another, and feel the rage begin to bubble over without the slightest provocation. Hanging above them all, a sense of doom nears palpability. A single spark could set them off, and at least one of them is smoking. But the man outside, having just lit up his cigarette, takes notice of the insect as hops directly in his path. Everything, every little thing then resolves to crystal clarity. The grasshopper is a metaphor, the man begins to realize, for his standing as mere novitiate upon the path toward tranquility. It is a sign that he must let go of all of his pent-up anger, and seek out the words within him once again. He takes a breath, and extinguishes his cigarette, opening the door, and walking back inside. While he has not managed to recapture his inspiration, he has at least found some measure of composure by which he may attempt to finish what he started. He knows that it cannot be the same, but the flicker of his muse has been rekindled and the echoes of his madness still linger in his brain. He breathes deeply, clearing out the doubt and agitation and begins to write again.
Yeah, it’s going to be one of those days, I can already tell. You know the kind: every thought explores the depths of meaning and perception, and simple tasks unfold before you like a never-ending scroll. I’m not sure exactly what might have set this off, but I think that I’ll just try to roll with it to see where it will take me. I mean, it’s not like drowning myself in metaphor is an entirely new thing for me. Sure, I used to have assistance to reach this frame of mind, but I guess that decades of staring into the void have finally produced results all on their own. This could mean that I’m beginning to take my first steps toward enlightenment, or it could signify that I’m falling down the water slide to madness. Truth be told, I’m really not all that worried about it. I’ve spent years and years trying to keep it all together, and if this should be the day when everything unravels, so be it. It takes a lot of effort to try to appear even slightly less “eccentric” than gladly I’ve become, so why bother with normality? Let’s see what happens when we pull upon the fraying threads of this tapestry. Will the whole thing fly to pieces or will the truth become apparent, liberated at long last from the tyranny of mundane life?
I’d like to go on record here, before we start again, as declaring my sobriety from everything except the caffeinated nicotine which even now is coursing through my veins. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with a little altering of one’s perceptions, from time to time, rather that I wished to make it absolutely clear that I’m in (as much as I’ve ever been) my right mind.
“I think, therefore I am.”
And with that we have established that the reality of self. One knows that he exists because he knows that he exists. Are we just a form by which the universe has chosen to know itself? Are we living in a world which exists apart from us, and yet is one with us, or one which we create within ourselves with every breath we take? Does it extend beyond perception, or fall away to nothingness beyond what we can perceive? If I close my eyes, does it cease to exist, held in memory for it when it may be needed?
Are we agents of Free Will, or slaves to narratives which we ourselves have written long ago, and then cause ourselves upon our births to forget we’d ever done it? What if this life is merely a crucible by which to forge ourselves into the beings which we’ve chosen to become? Bereft of everything except for the very essence of who we are, we act out life or death scenarios to teach ourselves what we must learn. Might this not explain the sensation of déjà vu? What if we are simply pages we had written while we existed outside of time, or hints which we’ve allowed ourselves to keep us from despair? Is coincidence truly ever so, or are there connections all around for us to crack the code?
And what of everyone living in this world which may or may not be? I can prove my own existence, but not that of another. Can you prove that I exist, and can I prove that you do too? What if the entire world around me is just some sort of living dream, populated by the phantoms which exist only in my mind? Does everyone I meet have a piece of knowledge which I must unlock, aspects of my consciousness designed to move me forward? Am I speaking to myself through strings of written words? I am swimming through a sea of metaphors in search of solid ground.
The only thing which I can prove is the fact of my existence, and then, only to myself. I cannot prove that anyone or anything outside the confines of my mortal consciousness is anything more substantial than a half-remembered dream. And when I am deep within the arms of sleep, am I back in the reality from whence I came, or is it merely another nuanced level for me to figure out? I could make the case, as long as I’m only here arguing with myself, that there have been too many little things for me to just dismiss out of hand. Little tricks of numbers, or double entendre prophecies which sail right before my eyes. Sometimes I feel like I could skip ahead if I only paid attention to the clues I left myself.
Considering that I feel like this, you might wonder, I realize I’m still talking to myself, how I feel about the subject of my death. It would stand to reason that if I were the only game in town, that the very concept of an ending would, at the very least, give me pause. But there are other times when I’d just like it to be done. I’m tired of jumping through my hoops, and have a score to settle with myself. Will I even feel the same, rejoining with the eternal version who made me, or will I come to call him out for all my pain and suffering?
For an atheist, it sounds an awful lot like I have some issues unresolved with faith and spirituality. Or it could be that the backstory was laid down as yet another clue to help me work it out. If that’s the case, then I have got a lot of blood upon my hands. I realize that if no one else is real, then no harm was ever truly done, but still, it seems a bit excessive.
And then there is whisper I’ve not heeded for some time: a small divergence from the theory stated just a couple of paragraphs above. What if everyone I meet is both a version which I’ve molded to fit my narrative, and yet somehow also pulled from someone who actually exists? What if we are all shadows in the dark, muted copies of ourselves living out entire lives as someone else’s NPCs? When I meet someone, are we interacting, or is it just a message on their answering machine?
You’ve made it through, so I feel I owe you this (if I’m wrong, and you actually do exist): While the first paragraph is from my original post, the rest has been an attempt to recover what was lost when the internet abandoned me. It’s kind of like this:
I should also note that I find it… intriguing that as I was tapped into whatever force I draw from when I’m nestled in The Zone, ready to uncover the secrets of reality, my internet went down. According to Comcast, there wasn’t anything wrong. A couple of resets fixed the issue, but they couldn’t figure out why it went down in the first place. And then, having been in a rage since losing what I’d written to the deepest reaches of the ether(net), desperately trying to claw my way back to serenity, I went outside to smoke my sixth cigarette in just over an hour and a half. And what should jump right in front of me, as I was contemplating how to get myself back together? A grasshopper! Agrasshopper! I live in the city. There is no real grass in which this insect might have hopped. And yet it popped out right in front of me, like a slap to my sensibilities. And just like that, the rage began to dissipate, and I knew that I could write again. I’m still pissed off, don’t get me wrong, but at least I’ve had a chuckle.