A friend calls me late last night and they're telling me how angry it makes them that there are these people who tell me all kinds of things about me being the mega-genius, the best writer in the world, the best artist ever, but that these same people won't say these things publicly. I was trying to explain that that's human nature. People aren't going to say things like that unless a lot of other people are saying it. My friend counters by saying, "They will sneak in the back door to talk about the revolution, but that's it. True cowards."
He's right. They are. But that's also most people. That's bad enough, and then I have some of these same people trying to pull me down because of greatness. That's the nature of greatness. People get envious and petty. They take these stupid shots. It can be about anything. It can be about my workouts. Try it some time, superstar, is what I want to say. You'll be about to puke after ten minutes, if you make it that far. As my friend correctly points out, there are people who access to me right now who shouldn't at all, and with whom I have to deal with from time to time, because of where the situation is at.
I go through this gauntlet of suck and assholes, and so much pettiness and childishness, on top of everything that I am dealing with. Then you have the people who do this form of intellectual stolen valor. They could support me, but they don't, because that would be acting on my behalf. My words are at the forefront of their minds often, but they want to tear me down, so they make decisions on what they'll bring up or put some commendation behind based upon 1. Not really supporting me with anything of consequence and 2. If it reflects favorably back on them. As in, "I also know that smart person thing!"
Which they never do on their own. It's exhausting. So something like that "Compete with me" post, which is like some guy out there bayoneting Germans in this war with this excerpt from an all-time masterpiece, won't draw anything from these people--which is on purpose, to try to cut me--but if I had some recondite thing about, I don't know, a random Sonny Clark session, they'll do the intellectual stolen valor routine. I have to really buckle down to get through these interactions. I am holding a lot in. And as I said to my friend, they'll say it all later, and, what's worse, they'll try and take a form of credit for it. I was saying to my mom yesterday that someday I hope I know much better people in my life. She said that she hoped so, too.
My same friend last night was telling me about this guy he knows, who he likes. He said he was down to earth. No airs. We both detest airs. Said he was this clean-cut kind of guy. Said he had this kind of 1950s jazz haircut. I knew what he meant. He'd be the guy in that Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" who took advantage of the G.I. Bill after the war and got a college degree and settled into life with a family in the suburbs, coached Little League, etc. Community pillar.
My friend said he didn't recognize him at first, because he had turned yellow. He was sitting by the pool, partially wrapped with a towel, looking really sick. He called my friend over, which is the only reason, I think, why they talked, because my friend wasn't sure it was him. The guy's kids were swimming at the pool, and his wife was bringing him juice or water or something and cucumber slices. Turns out he has liver disease. He made some reference to having been in rehab twenty-two years ago, and thinking he had the problem licked. He outright said it was because of his drinking. My friend was taken aback. Then he was looking up the difference between liver disease and cirrhosis. He doesn't drink that much--hardly at all--himself.
I had texted him on Saturday. I started work at three in the morning. Texted him at 5. Get up. Time to get going. His wife gets up really early, too. She says, "Check your phone, it's Colin. Make sure he's okay." My friend says, "He's working. He probably just wrote 3000 words and ran 5000 stairs." This was not very far off, actually. But what was amusing is that all weekend, his wife starts giving him a hard time, saying he should be getting up at four, he should be taking the dog on a long walk so that she gets tired, he should be running stairs, he should be working harder.
He said to me last night that he hopes the Yankees get their act together and win the World Series this year, because he doesn't think his dad will have another chance. I said to him that I wasn't sure that was the best way to be thinking. Prognosticating life and death isn't a great way to go, because we don't know, and that same prognosticating can remove us from the moment and the moments we have. His father is now in a wheelchair when he goes out, and as my friend said, he's really not there anymore. He has a woman who takes care of him, which is paid for out of an estate, and this woman brought my friend's father to town recently, for his child's bat mitzvah. He said that his dad didn't talk the entire time. He didn't say this to me when it happened. Was some time after. I know this man better than anyone. I could tell how much pain this caused him. I understood how hard it was for him to say goodbye when it came time for his dad to go back home. When my friend's mother died a few years ago, his dad lost a lot of the will to live. When you lose that will and you have health issues, those health issues worsen. The spirit means so much to every part of us, has such influence.
My mom has lost a lot, too. I am always on her to take care of herself. I play sage and guru to people. They count on me for wisdom and inspiration. As I am going through this. As I have a life that is exponentially less livable, if you will. My mom is always deep in the pain of the loss of my sister, Kerrin. Her grandchildren have helped save her. Kept her afloat. She is afloat because of her deep love for them. Her head is above water. But I also know that nothing causes her pain like my situation does. That here is the best artist there has ever been--and it is so abundantly plain to anyone who looks--and this person who has grown into a paragon of strength and goodness, and this is his life right now. I know how much pain she has as a result. Last night she told me that she wants to be alive when this works out for me. These two people believe in my outcome. She wants to see it. All of it. And that nothing would make her happier.
She hadn't gone out from Saturday until yesterday. She said that in the morning she didn't want to get out of bed. Yesterday she had a dentist appointment because of a chipped tooth, and she came back and said that it was really dumb to have stayed in that long. That it wasn't good for her at all. I said, yes, told you, you can't be doing things like that. I'm always giving. No matter what I have going on or am going through. I give. I find the energy and the words and the wisdom. I follow-up, I try. I look out for people. And then mostly, I am just shat on, or abused, and even shat on by people I call "my people" even though they're not really my people, and it's more of a default thing, because there's nothing else right now.
Then it's back to the war, and all of the creating, all of the fighting, the battle of right v. wrong and good v. evil. I try to find the energy for all of that. But to come in from that field of battle, and to come in after you've emptied your soul--which needs to be refilled posthaste, for the creation of what is next--in the making of some masterwork for all-time, and to have to deal with petty bullshit from people who know exactly what you are and what you are daily creating and have said so to you but won't say it publicly or won't help you when they can, because of a resentment of greatness and cowardice...it's exhausting. And sickening. It's more sickening than anything.
Regarding liver disease, I think I got out just in time. Or, if that's not quite accurate, I think that if I had continued to drink over the last seven years as I had been drinking, I could have had liver disease or worse. Cirrhosis. I could be dead. I think that's most likely. And that would mean that some 700 stories weren't written, and assorted books. So much else. This record here would never have been started, perhaps. Yesterday was the ten year anniversary of my learning that Anglerfish would be coming out. I am going to have to, I fear, do something regarding that press that will involve three people and it will be very ugly. I think often about how to handle this. But there is no way on earth that I should have two books in ten years with this place. I have spread sheets for the possible blog entry. The first blog entry. Which will happen if I am not treated the way I deserve to be treated. These are people who have told me what a genius I am. I won't get into it right now. The temptation is there, because there's so much wrongness. Provable, documentable wrongness. There is also a very easy, no-risk, obvious solution.
Anyway, I was at Durgin Park for a drink with someone I knew at the time. The guy who dressed up as Ben Franklin--there was actually a guy in Boston who did that, which helped give me the idea for Musings with Franklin--was there and we took a photo together. You had to tip him after. That's how he made his living. Being Franklin, taking photos with people, then getting handed a buck or two. I haven't seen him in years. I think he might no longer be with us, because a guy like that wouldn't just say, "You know what, it's been long enough, I'm retiring as Ben Franklin." You'd be Franklin to the grave. (Note to self: You need to finish that book.)
Facebook showed me this photo yesterday. I looked like Lumpy from Leave It to Beaver. I didn't look good. I looked rounded. I showed the photo to a couple people. If you saw me know and you took the bottom of your palm and hit me in the chest or shoulder with it, it's like smacking a brick wall. It was a pre-Zulu time for me. I thought about how much I've changed, outside and in. I truly change every day. I am never who I was yesterday.
One of those people was my friend. They said that the other night, they were looking for a message from their mom on an old phone. And they came across a photo from eleven or twelve years ago that Molly had taken of me in Gloucester. I said, "Jesus, man, that was a grim search expedition you ended up on the other night." He told me that I had found a way to reverse time. That I looked considerably older then.
I guess that brings us back to the liver. When I drank--and I still do this--I ingested a capsule of milk thistle every day. It's not just for the likes of Eeyore--milk thistle helps the liver. The way the liver works is that it has amazing strength and resiliency. It's like the strongest of the organs. You could almost say it has a rare will and energy. You can punish that liver, and it keeps coming back. Until it doesn't. And when it goes, it goes. That's it. You need a new one, and a new one is hard to get. Long lines. All kinds of priorities given. Who's been doing the right thing for the longest time?
A person can be like one's own liver. That's what I was thinking. My intention is never to drink again, for many reasons. I have more peace of mind with my body when I don't. But tribute to that spirit is one of them.
You can come back from liver disease, but you can't fuck around at that point. You have to do the right thing, and you can't drink again. I hope it works out for this guy. My friend is very good at sizing people up, and he thought well of him. You have to find the energy. And you really have to do the right thing. That's how it is with a lot of things.