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Gauzy, cotton-candy cirrus clouds hung low over Austin today, and as I swam my laps I watched the beauty of the sun behind that thin layer, the light breaking through with such luminescence, but a soft luminescence, a pearl lying on the softest gray cotton, shining, radiant, a beautiful glow, and a small corona of just the gentlest hint of rainbow color around that glow, and this held for the longest time, a rare beauty, and a hawk soaring low passed time and again, and I swam, I moved my muscles, I worked my body in the warm, clear water.
Dear L.E. -
I was surely surprised to hear that you're in prison, and not serving out that sentence in San Marcos - prison damn sure a different world from county jails.
As you know, by now.
Do you have plans, do you know where you going to live when you get out?
I know there are AA meetings there - are you going?     It's a fast slide down, into an institutionalized life, you've got to be very careful now - you're going to have to stay clean/sober when you get out, your future hinges upon it.
You're on my mind tonight.
She was a conductor.
She drank herself into a nursing home, and a wheelchair, at 46.
She continued drinking (snuck boxed wine into the nursing home) another two years.
She's a real alcoholic.
Three years sober now, still in a wheelchair but living independently, unable to drive (alcohol also wrecked her vision) but lives on a bus line, gets around as she needs to.
Because her life was spared, she's devoted it to beauty, teaches kids musical instruments, gives of herself wherever she can.
She's got no room for self-pity, remorse; she's a happy person.
I'm honored to know her.
So I called Amy, hurting as I was over Katherine's death, the loss of her goodness, the loss of her smile, and I was hurting some from being too much alone today also, not usually a good idea for me.     And I knew Amy was sorta hurting too, a good thing to leave that marriage but never an easy thing to do, and they together a decade.
It was a great idea.     We both cried, both laughed and it was just a fun conversation; her and I range far and wide, always, and always I smile after talking with her.
I told a friend about you, the warmth in your smile, and the foolishness of this letter, almost certain not to be posted.
If I've not sent it, my hope is that you'll disregard it entirely.
I told him you're living in one of the best places on the planet - your neighborhood is where I stay when I get to the city, a hotel on Wabash; when I'm in it I've got the window open, listening to the city, feeling of it.
I only come in the summer; Chicago winters are to me an outrage, and not to be borne.
For no reason at all, at seven-forty pm I got an itch to attend a meeting I've not attended in years.     I followed the feeling, ran into Jack, who with Katherine (yeah, the Katherine that died last week) had a love affair, fathered their son, Gunnar.
Jack is one of my favorite people, street trash, a drunk hobo, right at thirty years old, becoming beaten, the toll adding daily.     He's a con but I can see through, call it how it is.
He cannot get clean and sober.
It is an ache for me to see him struggle with this.
Pulling hangers from the rack, they tangled; rather than sorting, I yanked them out, breaking a hanger.
The trash when pulled from under the sink was overflowing, spilled out; rather than setting into larger container, I stomped it down.
My genetics - dear sweet dad; bipolar, manic, howling frenzied furies.
My models - raging father, brothers, sisters, maternal uncles, cousins.
Violence and rage the norm.
It's boring. Foolish. Stupid. Childish.
I've mostly had peace since the heart attack.
Serenity is beautiful.
For those of you who have never suffered the pains and joys of bipolar disorder, there really is no way of understanding it.
I have found the deepest understanding among bipolars, I need not say thousands of words which wouldn't be understood regardless, can't be understood, but are known from the inside out by other bipolars.
I am particularly well suited to sponsor bipolar alcoholics and/or drug addicts in AA, where even in rooms filled with outsiders bipolars can be beyond the pale; even there or maybe especially there, we are not understood.
We are a different breed of cat.
no one knows what you ought do
aside from wearing clean shorts
brushing your teeth
and having some fun
it doesn't matter how you wear your hair
water your plants
clean your kitchen
move your body
fart real loud
like a thunderclap!
blame someone else
or the dog
blame it on
a West Texas barking spider!
they're very rare
in these parts
let the Artist inside
prayer is imperative
Art is the most powerful force
write a book
it's a great thing
My death has changed my life.
Somehow, on this side of it, I've found myself with a peace that I've sought - that most everyone seeks, or most everyone that I know - for most of my life.
I don't know the how and why of this.
And it doesn't matter, anyways.
I began to notice it as I lay in my bedroom, recovering.     Complete realization that I've no control.
If I've got this peace, no matter what I do not have, it's enough.
If I've not got this peace, no matter what I do have, it's not enough.
I don't think she's going to live.
Her hands tremble.
She is unsteady on her feet.
Her heart still warm but her mind fuzzed considerable.
Her face round, swollen - steroids.
She's back to Texas - in Florida they refuse bipolars heart transplants; the steroids used to avoid organ rejection shoot bipolars straight into mania.     She cannot take anti-depressants - and she needs them - on top of steroids anti-depressants shoot you to the goddamn moon.
She looks so goddamn sick.
She IS so goddamn sick.
She's found the peace.
She's resting in the surrender.
It's out of her hands.
She knows it.
We sit, comfortably, Congress Avenue, watch the sky color, soften, fade.
We watch Austin unroll before us.
To the uninitiated, the friendship likely seems that of counselor, or therapist, perhaps lay minister - that maybe comes closest.
We're neither one religious, it's nothing to do with that, we don't need vestments, or sacrements, though I surely do like that Mexican mineral water he keeps in his studio.     That's about the closest we get to religion:     Topo Chico, holy water.
We sponsor one another.
We're both twelve step journeymen; neither need be pushed or pried.
We do the deal, together.
Each day, in some small or large way, it comes home that I died and came back, massive heart attacks, hugely diminished heart function.     My family and friends went wild, wacked out over it, everyone came to town, everyone in town came to visit, time and again.
I'm resting, I am doing what I think I am to be doing.     Reading.     Some internet, some meetings, some interactions with friends and family, some exercise, some good food, and some that isn't so good but I like it, so, fuck it, I'm gonna have it.
It is hard for me to still.
As the sun had broken through nicely, I went out to swim my laps.
It began to spatter rain before I even got to the pool, and it was by god raining like a son-of-a-bitch five minutes later, thunder rumbling away, the surface of the pool popping and spattering as it does in heavy rain - fun!
A flowering shrub had many of its flowers knocked off by the driving rain; beautiful soft pastel violet flowers.     Many of them are now in my home, in the crystal champagne decanter in clear, cool water, very pretty - you'd think I was a broad.
Speech therapists are not only about speech, though they surely will work with that if you've lost the ability due to stroke, heart attack, whatever.     But they also assess cognition and logic - have you been wasted by what happened to you?
I was released today, after five sessions - I've no brain damage from my extended period on the not-moving side of dead, which really is amazing, no oxygen to my brain for a long, long time.
I know how fortunate I am.
Life is so goddamn beautiful.
So I sat for twenty minutes today, which I used to do twice daily but have fallen off of, all the tumblings of this year.
And it surely was not quiet in that twenty minutes, not that it ever gets totally quiet but it does quiet some over time, and also I get better at not paying attention to what noise there is.
My prayer life since the heart attack has been absolute but not disciplined, I've been in prayer throughout the days, always asking, always receiving too.
Knowledge and power - that's what I'm to ask for.
A good day…
I was headed off to bed, tired and worn and way too late, haven't written anything for this, not going to write anything of consequence tonight, I'm fucking beat and nothing is fitting together just no, and it wouldn't be for you, either.     I'm not manic and I'm not depressed so that's all to the good, fun to see Jimmy and Woodrow after all this time, and fun to be with my people, at my meeting.     A gorgeous day, and fun to swim, and sun, and just in it, call 911 for the homeless guy passed out in the sun
My neighbor got laid last night.
He's pretty dang nocturnal about sex, often between three and five, give or take.     He's not (usually) a screamer or a moaner, but his bed is right underneath mine.
My neighbors to the side are a married lesbian couple who surely are sexual but I couldn't testify to it in court - maybe they have these super-quiet, intense orgasms, perhaps involving Birkenstocks and herbal tea?     No telling.
On the (rare, anymore) occasions I get laid, I'm a screamer and a moaner ('she's a dreamer, and a loner' - Butch Hancock lyric).
ninety-eight, ninety-nine, hundred
I so love to watch the hawks describe their arcs across miles of sky, I swim on my back, got my good sunglasses on, and I watch the butterflies flutter by, I'm kicking through that clear warm water in the bright sunshine, surrounded by tropical flowers, the burbling, trickling fountain, peaceful solitude.
A latte in the shady breeze of late afternoon.
Bob, myself, Congress Avenue, Austin laid before us in the gloaming, the beautiful waning light, remarkably soft purple and soft pink clouds against soft blue skies.     Sponsorship, both sides of the chair; I've some writing to do, tis clear.
Pam has been one of the most important women in my life.
Dear sweet Mom heads that list, by the way, figures larger in my life than any other woman - I lived inside her, for christ sake, she not only knows where the buttons are, she installed them.
Anyways.     Pam.     The intensity of our sexual relationship, and of our emotional connection, both good and bad, her incredible vulnerability, and how it was to sleep with her, how sweetly she lay in my arms - I'm glad it happened.
But I didn't intend that Pam be important in my life.
I met Tina in an AA meeting nineteen years ago, she drove up from South Texas to Austin to tell her AA story to my local group.
To the uninitiated, an AA speaker meeting would be an extraordinary event - we really lay our lives out in front of others, and many of us have lived spectacular lives, somehow lived to tell about it all.
Tina has damn sure been through a lot, tells the story well - funny, poignant, sad, inspiring.     Telling your story well is an art, not all of us can do it well, but Tina damn sure does.
The name lives in my soul, Waylon and Willie as only they could sing, one of my favorite Texas songs.
Population - 3.
I've driven past it many times.     But not today.
We were in the Hill Country today, bumming, slumming, checked it out.     Three buildings, two of them built in 1849, a general store and a dance hall, second oldest in Texas.     It's a bit touristy but you cannot beat the history of the place, and it's a living history, unfolding every day.
We sat on a tree, kissed by a sunny fall breeze, sweet live Texas music...
I'm not going to bitch about writing this hundred words.
What's the point - I've bitched about it unceasingly over the years and it's never gotten me anywhere, it's just a load of baloney, a weak mind on display, a personality which just does NOT get things of importance done on time.
Or I at least SAY that it's something of importance - you'd not know it from my whimsical approach to it, my 'Oh, it'll get done' frame of mind.     When I consider this carefully, I surely do get angry about it.
So I'm not even going to think about it.
it's at an edge of my consciousness
not the edge
because there isn't one
that I know of
I'm in it now
or close to it
as I write this
it comes and goes
the sense that comes strongest
as I approach this edge
is that of smell,
smell seems the gateway
it begins to come through
it's never come through
and I don't want it to
I don't know if it's psychosis
or a door
it seems a passage
into another, familiar experience
I've not told but one person
I keep forgetting the damage done to my heart.
I get to feeling better, get to thinking I can do whatever I want, and overdo it.     And then my goddamn heart hurts, and I'm exhausted, and scared cuz my heart won't stop hurting, and thinking I ought to call the doc, but I don't want to be pussified and call the doc every five goddamn minutes.
This is the second time I've done this, abandoned caution, thoughtlessly done too much.
I keep thinking that since I feel so good that I can do as I wish.
I'm weak and sick and I just fucking hate this.     Not as sick as yesterday, and I was able to do my laps in the sun this afternoon, but I feel like a wet cat looks, sitting outside the door on a winter day.
Best piece of the day meeting with Kelly, the fun of her.     Some flirting, and she came on way too hard, I had to hold my ground, and did.
I got creamed once this year by moving too fast and won't do it again.
Fact is, I still miss Elena - such a huge disappointment that was...
Today was the first time Donna Jean came with me, bringing the AA meeting into the detox.
She was in the detox the first meeting I took in after my heart attack, seven weeks ago.     Thus her clean/sober time is not as long as it might be, but she makes up for that with a determination to pass on her experience.
She was great.
I bring experience, knowledge, stability, fire.     But she brings something I cannot - the exuberance of new recovery, living proof that they can do it, too; she detoxed there not long ago.
Listened today to the breaking down of my parents, these two fine, caring, loving, flawed people facing their inevitable demise, moving from their home, letting go their belongings, 84 years of living into boxes, a garage sale.
My mother sharp as can be but failing physically, my father failing now in most every way, my father, my hero, this strong, robust, broken, laughing, remarkably social being now fading to fear, fading to black, won't eat, Alzheimer's coming on.
I would save them if I could but I cannot.     I did my piece, a huge piece, now it's for my siblings...
I love you because of your courage.
I love you because of your warmth.
I love you because of your savage sexuality, your willingness to rock and roll at any time.
I love you because of your vulnerability - that is unreal to me, a huge hook.
But I've got to pull the plug.     If I don't, I'll not be available for other love, not really available, not as I'd want to be, not as I need to be - I may never find the love I'm seeking but I damn sure won't find it if I stay emotionally connected to you.
The beauty in the late afternoon as I swam my laps, then lay in the sun reading a fun book.
The joy of the water on my skin, of my body cutting through that water, both in the laps and then, after the laps, the dives, taking breaks from the book.
The sun a presence in the sky but a pleasant presence, not overpowering, overwhelming, overbearing - it was beautiful.
And that sky a pure blue, and huge black butterflies skittering about, the odd dragonfly, and I'm burnt damn near black, laughing aloud as I read the book I'm so enjoying.
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