when you meet extraordinary people, they’re often in the shit.

scott was probably the most extraordinary person i ever met. imagine sitting in the june drizzle without socks on, outside of a brick building that looks like either an old prison or a former hospital, no shoes just socks that you washed in the sink the night before because you trusted climate science, and oh by the way you’re in detox and that makes things weird in general, and having that guy ask you how you were.

because that dude was not doing well. and i am fine, comparatively. by most possible metrics. but this beautiful person just said, “hey” and it was the beginning of a week of growing old with an old man and me feeling like “oh, maybe this is exploitative” and then “damn dude really likes when i bother to wake him up for our smoke break in the morning.”

and other such moral qualms that are only interesting to people who don’t care about much.

scott was one of two scotts. don’t get me wrong, the other scott is a contender for awesome scott, but he didn’t quite cut it. awesome scott was just this guy who hung out, and who had a hell of a life, and who i promised i would drive to malden if he needed it. and i meant it. took the day off from work, looked for a call from a random massachusetts number. just really wanted to say, “hey, let’s do this drive, you’re greater when you aren’t feeble.” but he never called, and i can’t actually call him, either, because he’s homeless and just gets burners.

but he said to the people at the detox, “look, if you can’t get me to new hospital, i’ll end up dead on my ass. and they said we are looking into that. and he said look into your marketing material because they actually promise that. right there.

and they said, okay. because they were all underpaid and understaffed, and that’s things.

i talked to scott the first time because i was shaky. i don’t know if you’ve ever been shaky from alcohol but it’s a pain in the ass. first there’s the part where you’re doing this thing you can’t control and creates a lot of anxiety. then there’s the anxiety part, where you’re like, “gosh i really hope people don’t notice and judge me,” and the part where you’re like, “ah, this isn’t okay” takes over, and your body is like, “are you dying?” and your mind is like, “maybe. actually, probably.” and your mind is also like, “good work doing some basic research and going to detox.”

and then someone like scott shows up and says hello.

and you’re like, fuck it, there’s all these weird cliques developing, and i just wanna talk to the person who isn’t a part of any of that shit. and he’s like, can i bum a cigarette? and you’re like, dude, if i’m still talking to you in a week, i’ll drive you to malden. have all the cigarettes you need.

and of course you’re still talking to him in a week because christ the cliques are strong in detox, and because you feel fucking bad that he hasn’t made his own, and because this other dude who probably feels similar joined in. and because even though scott doesn’t go to any of the sessions, you’ll still wake or rouse him for smoke breaks. because you, other dude, and scott can play uno. because scott is basically just a “how’s life” guy, and you’re like, “pretty bad,” and he’s like, “same but i guess we’ll try anyway.”

the interesting thing about detox isn’t all the absurdity so much as it is the flattening. you’re all here, motherfuckers. this guy’s a lawyer from boston who can talk a good fucking game at .26 (but can’t handle a hangover for shit). this is a creeper hitting on the hot women, who’ll never recover from a broken leg sustained in an accident ten years ago. this is some kid from lynn who’s just getting off the taper, and the sweat is just pouring out, and good fucking god. you’ll make it.

and the people who won’t. sorry, christian, but when you said you spurned a drug test at the hospital, i officially stopped believing in you. sorry, dozens of others, i hope you make it, but i don’t think you’re going to. for what it’s worth, i don’t think i’m going to, either, and this isn’t an attempt to throw shade.

scott, though. i doubt he’ll make it, either. i just want him to more than anyone. i gave him my number. i answer random calls now, hoping it’s his new obama-phone.

i wish it was. i got out of detox really quick, and i did not give that dude enough of a hug.

letter to a friend

anyway. i don’t know. i’m kind of wondering about hitchhiking. just, what if i don’t ever hitchhike across the country? or some stupid shit like that? just, like, banal americana shit that doesn’t involve a house and a white picket fence? and that hopefully isn’t as banal as that kid who died in alaska. (i’d rather die in the american southwest, to be honest.)

this is all super fucking boring. part of what i hate about crisis is how fucking absolutely, mind-boggingly boring it is. and then you get into a trap of being like, this is boring as fuck, and everyone’s like yeah, and you’re just like yeah that’s what i just said. and people are like, actually i’m having second thoughts about you. and i’m like, i’m onto third and fourth thoughts, thank you very much.
and it’s incredibly fucking boring. crises aren’t all 9/11. you don’t always get the photos. my friends have died in hotel rooms. and they got some shit obituary in the local paper, and that’s it, and it’s wonderful because people will be able to read that shit forever because there are archivists and librarians. but that’s it. and fucking obituaries cost money. that some poor homeless fuck with a full and wonderful life will never have. but i guess that’s fucking okay or something.
i guess i don’t know anymore, dude. we’re completely fucked. no amount of #resistance is going to save us. no accelerationism is going to save us. it’s just the falling action. minus the hot people. and maybe this was a dick move, but i told this to a wonderful woman who’s been checking on me (to keep me alive) yesterday, and i was just like, i dunno man. you guys really fucked up. and this is someone i volunteer with, at like a church, and is a quaker, and is generally wonderful, and christ on a cracker, i wouldn’t trade her for the world. but fuck, man. just, when do you level with yourself, as a people, and a society, and on and on and on into nuclear war. when do you say, i could have done a little better.
which is boring and banal. because, duh, we all could do a lot better, and regret and literature and fables and so on. but really, most people don’t regret shit. i hardly regret anything, because i’m a narcissist, and i want to Say Something Important, and even when it’s saying it’s boring, that’s self-involved, and boring.
let’s be clear, you seem to have more faith in american institutions than i. i love that about you. the arc of history bends, and so on.
but we have a greater than 50% chance of really not making it out of this. but
i hope to see you soon

sing it with me now

i went to detox, which was weird. my roommate, we’ll call him jeff, was an asshole. jeff stole the master key from the cleaning people, and wendy, to whom i addressed a letter at the end, called him out on it. he made a stupid statement about it on my last day there, which no one believed for a second, and we all made fun of him some more, because jesus. just, that’s why.

it kind of sucks to be in the middle of a breakdown, but that’s life and you just do it. my favorite thing in the world is watching, y’know? i once found a friend in the middle of nowhere and we went swimming. we had a sauna. we ate fish for breakfast.

if i die i won’t regret it. it’s been a-okay.

and when i don’t, i won’t either.

there is a song that goes like this. da-da-dee-da-da-dum-dum-dum.

sing it with me now


there was this one time when i was super heartbroken and i met someone for the first time — and, like, really met her you know — and that turned out good until it became shit. we were both shit to one another for a long time before it fell apart, and let’s face it, that’s the story of every relationship i’ve ever had. i bring out the worst in people and they bring out the worst in me. it’s fine. it’s just one of those things. i don’t even mind it anymore, i just try to avoid being shit to as many people as i can. which definitely doesn’t work. i’m still shit. you’re all still shit. this isn’t a pity party or a condemnation, it’s just simple fact. we’re all kinda shit. the thing is that you don’t beat yourself up over it. if you don’t think you’re shit, you’re wrong. if you do think you’re shit, you’re wrong. and this isn’t some moral resignation to let everyone off the hook to be all happy-go-lucky, it’s just, i dunno. i don’t really know anyone who’s not shit in at least one way. shit happens. and we make it happen. it’s fine. it’s fine. we all fuck things up constantly. deal with it. everyone else does.

it turned out that i’m shit at a lot more things than i anticipated, and so i wound up being shit some more. that’s fine. i should probably go talk to a therapist, but they’d be like, hmm thinkingface.emoji, and i’d be like c’mon. c’mon. just be real. we’re all fundamentally fucked up, and anyone who pretends otherwise is my neighbor who has a shit dog that is shit. here’s an idea shit dog, shut the fuck up it’s 6 in the goddamn morning and shut the fuck up. did i mention shut the fuck up? because i should have because it’s 6 in the goddamn morning. so shut the fuck up.

even when things are 100% shit (and oh lord they’re going to be for a while), you still sometimes get lucky. and i’m not talking, ‘oh wow, i got lucky last night,’ as in banged some hottie — male or female — i’m talking luck. because it’s a thing. i once hitchhiked from quebec city to chicoutimi in late november with my friend eric. our driver crashed in a national park in a blizzard. lucky doesn’t begin to describe how we lived. we got even luckier when a tour bus picked us up afterwards on the side of the highway. we got luckier still when jessika — the woman of eric’s dreams — somehow found us, took us out for a drink, and let us crash at her place.

that was the luckiest single day of my life. because i should be dead. nine times out of ten we’d have gone off a cliff.

i should be dead for a lot of reasons. i’m still here though. being lucky.

my favorite part about being lucky is part of luck is loving life. part of love is hating life, of course, but you love and you love and you love, and you hate a little bit less every day, because you just do. life is the great romance. which is trite and stupid to say out loud, but i dunno. just look at it. there’s a pigeon or a squirrel or a monkey or a lobster or a whatever the fuck ever, and isn’t it kind of great? have a great conversation, a horrible break-up, a traumatic accident. aren’t you glad you just fucking made it?

i’ll never forget it, a girlfriend’s mom and her friend came to visit us in portland, and we were out of toilet paper, and i rode my bike furiously to the plaid pantry to get some motherfucking toilet paper, and i did, and when i got back they were gone. and i felt real bad about that, you know?

i should’ve married that woman. i fucked it all up.

but life is all about the mistakes you make. or at least that’s how i sleep at night.

there’s a stupid quotation from a stupid movie that i like that goes “you make your own luck.” and it’s batman so there’s, like, a moral dilemma, i forget, some shit happens, and anyway two-face, who is harvey dent who was supposed to be gotham’s savior, anyway et cetra et cetera, it’s the one with heath ledger in it. so batman kills harvey dent i think? or maybe chief gordon does. anyway, i dunno, somehow harvey dent has a coin and it’s what he flips but then his face burns off and maybe so does the coin? or, like, half of it? point of the story, he becomes a bad guy, and says ‘you make your own luck’ and it’s a coinflip metaphor, is what i’m saying.

but you know. that’s kind of a silly thing to say. i get that it’s supposed to be super reaffirming or whatever, but nah. nah. you don’t make your own luck. i know too many dead people to buy that line. luck comes at you fast.




on ghosting

i met meghan via tinder and it turned out we knew a whole bunch of people in common. her ex, for example. but that was fine because it was just a date, and even though we went outside to make out, it wasn’t really a thing, you know? we just had lust. and a couple of drinks to rid ourselves of the inhibitions. so when i was like, ‘wanna go outside and make out?’ she was like, ‘sure.’ and that was that. we did the same thing a week later in park slope, and it was fine.

life mostly seems fine to white dudes.

so anyway when i was a kid i was apparently translucent. which, i dunno, various sunburns throughout the years would seem to confirm. so i was a ghost. and i’m still the whitest.

but i had to ghost on meghan from tinder because she liked me, and as casper it’s in the script. i’m one of those people who pretends to have values, but doesn’t actually live by any of them nearly enough. a hypocrite. granted, i don’t think most people are any better, but i really want to be. i really do. i think that would be just great.  i just want to be 75% great.

i don’t think that’s too much to ask.

god came up and said what kind of shoes do you want? and i said air jordans, and god said that’s good.

and those air jordans are coming tomorrow.

sometimes i think i never woke up

i had this dream last night where i was looking for new hiking boots to climb a 29,000 foot mountain in new hampshire. just a day trip. all of my friends were crashing at my place before we headed out for the climb, and i needed to get rid of a dresser, so i put it into the back of my truck and headed to union square in new york, because that’s the obvious place to get shoes. so i went into one place, and everything was in disarray, and i felt bad because i hadn’t put socks on to try on shoes, but this sales guy only had two pairs for me to look at, and i felt less bad because i wasn’t going to try on either. i told him ‘look, we’re climbing a mountain today, these aren’t going to cut it,’ and he was like, ‘they just might.’ and i left. i put the dresser on the side of the road and parked and went to a little plaza, which was really more like downtown brooklyn now that i think about it, and anyway. anyway. it was almost 10 AM, and i was stressing about how to make this trip work if i didn’t have hiking boots, so i go into this one spot, which is kind of like a mini-mall, and i’m looking for a ‘shoe emporium’ sign because it was advertised outside. and i’m doing this big U, following the path of the mini-mall, and as i come around there’s this restaurant and michael jordan is sitting there having coffee and shooting the breeze with the regulars. anyhow, somehow he knows i’m looking for shoes so we chat for a bit, and he’s like ‘try up the road, and i’m like ‘thanks, michael jordan.’ so i head out to check up the road, but then i wake up.

and i really wonder if i find shoes in that dream. i really wonder what the top of that mountain looks like.

dreams are weird.

i fell and hit my head a year and a half ago and almost died, and i look at the world now, and sometimes i think i never woke up.

the rise and fall of the roman republic, a memoir

I finally came clean to my mom. It was after a friend and I spent the afternoon tripping out on mushrooms. I’m not going to pretend I had any sort of revelation that hadn’t already been simmering in my guts for years, but it was just time to say it. “I’m suicidal.”

She said what moms all over the world would say, the good ones anyway. “Oh, honey.”

There is nothing wrong with mental illness. But it does have to be dealt with. For quite some time I went to a doctor in NY, and he gave me benzos and an SSRI. I never took the latter, but I used to former to mask alcoholism. If you’ve gotta take a customer out to dinner, it’s generally not great if you have the shakes. Benzos were the solution.

Last year, a friend came to stay with me at my apartment in NY. He and I had always spoken really candidly about our various problems. We toured Vancouver Island together, after all, so there was plenty of time to chat. He’s a great guy, even though he, too, is an asshole.

When he was my guest last year, though, I said, “I’m quitting drinking when I’m out of benzos.” I was unemployed and uninsured by then, so I was on my last scrip. I pointed to the pills, probably 20-25 or so, on my desk. There are three left now. There have been three left for a long time.

Yesterday I went to Gloucester, and a friend and I walked along the beach and sat on logs and watched the colors change as the mushrooms set in. I carried a bag with my lunch the whole time, and it became a running joke that I was just a normal dude with a plastic bag, because things are funny when you’re on mushrooms. It was a beautiful windy day, so we decided to lay down on the rocks, and because there were bugs everywhere that was funny, too. When we started to come down, we walked along a ridge of stones, plowed there by the city to protect against the storm-surge from the previous day’s Nor’easter. We slid and fell a lot. I gave my friend’s dog my sandwich, and the apple I’d brought along was too mealy to enjoy so I threw it into the sea.

There are a whole lot of things that are really beautiful in the world. You included.