I hit a moment today when I wanted to post some kind of picture to Instagram. Because that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days. With the lockdown I haven’t been many places. My house. Writing. Coffee. I go on walks with my son. Tonight he was a little high maintenance, but he’s going back to his mom’s.

Last night I had some great ideas for the university book which humanizes it a little bit more. It becomes a comedy of sorts, rather than a rant about being discarded after 18 years in one job. This afternoon I used my machete to quarter up a large limb that had fallen in a windstorm yesterday. My hands are covered in blisters, but talk about a big difference from a few years ago. I didn’t get winded. My hands were just too soft and the handle of the machete wore through my skin pretty quickly. My arms are strong. My heart is stronger than maybe ever. I just kept chopping away until it was done.

Ten years ago, I did the same thing, only I had an axe and a saw and it took me an entire afternoon. I was lying in the yard, trying not to black out then. Overweight. Unhappy. Sick even. Today, the work was honest. My son stacked up the cut branches and I laid out the wood to dry for our next fire.

Last year right about now, I wrote two pieces on what makes you desirable to the opposite sex. It was a pair of fun, introspective pieces inspired by my blogging friend, Michelle. She is no stranger to matters of the heart herself. There are a lot of us out there–though our numbers are diminishing. Maybe we are all too stubborn or crazy to keep this up. Talking with my friend K today, we came up a list that pretty much covers everything for men and women.

  1. Listen to each other–be heard. Be seen.
  2. Respect each other–each of you is a person
  3. Be kind and show some compassion.
  4. Do what you say you are going to do
  5. Don’t be lazy

It’s just about that simple.

As I was seaching through pics to post on social media, because I figure why the hell not. Our society is coming apart at the seams. The world is turning upside down. I’ve been polishing brass on the Titanic for a while, so why not?

There is that book about Love Languages everyone tells you to read. At the top of my list is time and physical touch. At the bottom of my list is gifts. I think a big reason for this is even now I struggle with seeing a lot of gifts and the people who gave them to me are gone. The gift has outlived the relationship. So now I have a bunch of stuff around the house to remind me of what I’ve lost every single day.

I’m not a fan of gifts. I would rather have experiences. At least they get to live on in my memories, as bittersweet as those might be. Even if you crossed paths with someone who meant the world to you, you know the reality of it is you would never be able to trust them again.

In my photos, I kept running into pictures of her. I kept getting those reminders of how things were. How amazing it all was. I wondered if she even thinks of me anymore, or even considers what any of it meant. Or how bad it hurt when she left. I used to ask her where she had been all my life, and she would say, “Making sad choices.” Well, I had hoped that was all past tense. But I think she stuck with what she knew.

I might have friends who are yelling at the screen right now, “Just move on!” Well, this isn’t your grief! If you don’t like it, don’t read any further! I’m tired of writing things in hopes that people will like it or agree with it. I’m not writing for you anymore!

I don’t do happy endings. LIFE isn’t expected to, so why the hell should I?

I’m not just grieving the end of a relationship. I’m grieving the loss of myself. The end of an era. I’m not rioting or wearing facemasks and obsessively checking statistics on the CDC site in disbelief. No. I’m comfortable in my pain because it is familiar. I’m bored with it at this point. And I’m bored with trying to make anyone else happy.

When I think about the story I want to write, the words of Joe Lansdale come to mind. “Write like everyone you know is dead.” Now I know why Hemingway said writing is the loneliest profession. All your pals, all you family, lost loves…you can’t write like they are ever going to read it. Why? Because they are all dead.

I posited this question on Facebook today: I have an idea that would make for a great story. My only problem is I think it might make a lot of people hate me. Any suggestions? And if you are reading this, no it’s not about you.

The support was overwhelming. But I have to admit, that last sentence was a lie. It is about you. How could it not be? It’s about you because it’s about me and the rest of you get dragged along for the ride. Sorry about that.

I’m not writing this to give anyone else a happy ending. I write for me. If you need a happy ending, go pick up a Nicholas Sparks book. It’s pornography. If that makes me lonely and bitter, then you haven’t been paying attention for the last six years. I think all of that horseshit was prelude to this. I’m just tired. The world is falling apart, burning down, and I am lighting a cigar off the smolering wreckage–even though my doctor strongly advises against doing so. I’m tired of having to lie because it fits with the narrative everyone else bullshits themselves with, just to keep from putting a gun to their temples.

I don’t wear a mask in the grocery store, so why the hell am I wearing one when I write?!

I have been holding back a lot of pain these days because I try to fake that smile until it sticks. I have a few friends who have heard the story backwards and forwards. They’ve been there, and I appreciate them. But even I am starting to sound like a broken record. I hold back on the off chance that I don’t say the wrong thing and someone will hate me. Maybe a lost love will wake up and say, “I really miss him. What a mistake I made! Wow!” It hasn’t happened ever and it won’t. Once I’m out of someone’s life, I doubt they think of me at all. I still think about friends I had in Kindergarten, for fuck’s sake. I am cursed with a long memory and a sentimental heart. Well folks, bridges will be burned for good. But not for lack of trying on my part. Between my own kids and significant others, friends, and now my job, just let me make this perfectly fucking clear:

I didn’t leave. YOU did.

Maybe if I were more of an asshole, some of them would still be around. Because I tried…really fucking tried to use those rules. Or the one big one at least: Treat Others How You Would be Treated. Yeah, leaving somebody up shit creek isn’t my style, but I guess it was theirs. I’m tired of writing things in hopes that it will change anything. I’m tired of saying the right words so that other people will like me. Here’s two words on that matter:

I’m done.

Would you rather be rich and famous or well liked? Well, I’ve been liked and I’ve been poor and miserable. I’m not saying my writing is going to make me rich and famous, but if it did, I could at least see the difference for myself. Maybe it’s time to say fuck it and just get the words down. You see, all these years, I’ve had my ears and eyes open. Like a sponge, I’ve been taking it all in. Only it was as volatile as gasoline.

Now I’ve got a big old can full of gasoline in one hand, a lighter in the other, and a shit-load of bridges as far as the eye can see. Tomorrow, I will write with a pen dipped in hell. Tomorrow, it’s time to be fearless. Let’s see where the road leads.

Maybe the world isn’t ending, but it sure as fuck feels like mine has been. Now it’s time to write fearlessly–write like the world has ended.


7 thoughts on “Revelations

  1. Don’t remember if I ever mentioned, but have you read Neal Stephenson’s “The Big U”? It’s set at a university & portrays some of the shenanigans that goes on in those sorts of places. I found it an entertaining, if somewhat uneven read. It was his first novel after all. On the plus side, it’s a reasonably short book, unlike the massive doorstoppers his recent books have become.

      • I see what you mean. Maybe wait until you have yours done.

        You the old saying about if you give five writers the same story idea, you’ll get five different stories? But I can also appreciate not wanting to be inhibited by having read someone else’s take on a similar idea.

        Stephenson being Stephenson, there are some plot elements that are uniquely him. It’ll be cool to see what uniquely Clinton Harris elements you’ll come up with.

  2. I get so frustrated with people who say ‘move on’. One of my friends was with her spouse when he was killed a few years back and she’s still a wreck. Honestly, I cannot see being so wrapped up in another that I’m not me. But, I’m not going to tell her, you, or anyone to move on. Your pain and grief is yours and how to deal with it is yours. When mom was dying and I was so frustrated constantly, I had one kind of friend tell me to suck it up. Mom was worse than I could ever be and she need compassion. Another friend told me mom was a bit of a prat and to be frustrated if I needed. Trust in YOU, even when ‘you’ isn’t right in front of you.
    I’m also impressed you used a machete to chop up branches. Axes are easier!

    • Thank you for your comments. All of that sounds hard, but I’m glad you got some good support when you needed it. Yes, you lose YOU in the process to be sure. It’s hard to guage quite where you will emerge again, if ever.

      Unfortunately, my ex wife figured she needed my wood ax more than I did in the divorce. But I have my WWII USMC bolo machete. It’s more of a hatchet than a machete and at nearly 3lbs, it makes quick work of a lot of brush, sticks, and apparently limbs!

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