Five years sober and
I’m loving every minute of it and
I’m hating every minute of it and
I’m indifferent to every minute of it.
Humans are complex, you know?
I mean, it’s not an excuse,
but it is a reason.
When I decided to stop,
to decline my animal vice,
I started building a new type of animal.
An animal that’s neurotic,
and happy to be dying at a slower rate.
These things were always there,
but are now enhanced, intensified,
because there’s no monkey-time booze
within my grimacing veins to suppress them.
The depression is so intensified it could drive you to drink,
which is an irony I hold close
so it can warm my aging heart.
I’m more dependable than I used to be,
I can come pick you up at
the Kaiser ER or the police station
at three o’clock in the morning.
I won’t be passed out
under beer sweat-soaked sheets
next to a box of old family photos on my cold basement floor.
So keep that in mind,
I might come in handy.
I mean, someone’s got to have a use for me, right?
Because some days
I find it hard
to even find a use for myself.
There’s so much shit
swimming around in my head
even though the beer filters are five years gone.
Five years gone and still no love for Jesus.
I’m actually rather proud of that.
I’d rather spend the rest of my life
Struggling like Sisyphus
to find solace in myself
than to look to some spook in the sky
and try to give his ass all the credit.
I’m the one doing the fucking work, for chrissakes.
If I’m to suffer or sparkle, I’ll take all the blame.
I’ll get more of the royalties that way.
There’s no shame in suffering,
and no suffering in shame.
And when I get to that place,
if I get to that place,
where I never think about booze at all,
how much of my life I wasted with it,
it will be, I think it will be,
a notable, happy day.
I could use a notably happy day, let me tell ya.
And I will give you a call, and
offer to take you out for a drink.
You can pick the bar.
I’m pretty sure they’ll have club soda.
(Photographed from my front porch one sunny day in October, 2022. See my other work on Flickr and Instagram.)
The first Sunday in April, I went to a memorial at an Eagles hall for a man a I never knew.
My wife and I went together. She had known the man, and so had my brother-in-law who was also at the memorial.
My brother-in-law actually served as the quote-unquote minister for the event, and he said some kind words of remembrance for a man who was universally liked by everyone in the room.
I did what I always do at the many memorials I’ve attended at the Eagles hall for people I didn’t know or barely knew.
I wandered around and shot photos.
I’m not an Eagles member, but I have friends who are. And I know other members on a social basis. And, like my wife, I knew some of the folks who knew the deceased, the man we were there to honor.
It was a somber event, but it wasn’t entirely dour and funereal. I talked to a lot of people, and photographed them, and that was fun for me.
But as I was leaving after an hour and a half I remember hoping that when I’m dead there’s 55 or 60 people who remember me fondly enough to gather together at an Eagles hall on a Sunday afternoon and talk about what a good man I was.
Photographed at the Eagles hall, FOE Aerie #3255, in Brisbane, California on April 3rd, 2022.
See the entire collection of 33 photographs on Flickr.
Betty was Hawaiian, she was short, she was my mother-in-law, she was (I think) 86, she was beautiful, she knew she wasn’t educated but she knew she was smart, and she died two years ago today.
Betty loved mumus (she looked great in them), she fiercely loved my father-in-law (her second husband), she was gentle and compassionate, she loved her kids deeply, and she hated Windows computers and didn’t trust email or electronic commerce.
Betty was a Christian, she fucking hated it when I cursed around her but eventually grew to tolerate it, she once “paid” me 1,200 bucks (when I was recently unemployed from teaching public school) for a series Windows computer lessons it quickly became clear she never intended to take she just wanted to help me financially, and she made this sort of jellied white crab dip that it was absolutely to die for.
Betty laughed like she invented laughing for all of humanity, she knew I struggled with alcohol abuse for years but loved me anyway and didn’t judge me for it, and she died peacefully in her sleep in a mumu thankfully never knowing how much I wish I’d spent more time with her during our lives and how much I’m going to miss her until the end of my days.
(Photographed in Brisbane, California at Christmastime in 2014, 2015, and 2018. See my other work here and here.)
During the first week of May I was driving from San Francisco into Brisbane, California along Bayshore Boulevard, and I encountered this interesting scene…
It turns out that the man with the beard was driving along Bayshore Boulevard too, but the upper control arm on the driver’s side of his big old car snapped and he had to immediately pull over and call an emergency mechanic.
So while the mechanic worked away, I snapped a few photos and the young man and I talked for a few minutes. He showed me the groove out on the street that his damaged car had cut into the pavement as he pulled it out of traffic.
He was a nice young fellow, very warm and open.
The mechanic was a nice guy too, but very busy.
(Photographed in Brisbane, California on May 04, 2021. See my other work here and here.)
Well it’s my birthday, literally today is my birthday, and so I wanted to give you a present. I’m 57 years old today, in case you were wondering. Frankly, because of some mental-health and past booze-related reasons I’m amazed and very happy to still be here. But that’s a story for another place and time.
Right, on to your gift.
2020 was a shitty year for many reasons, mostly the COVID-19 pandemic. I mean, my daily movements and social interactions were restricted, your daily movements and social interactions were restricted, we had more free time, more booze, more Netflix, less money, less security, and less hope. It was a big fucking mess that will hopefully come under rapid and compassionate control due to the leadership of our new president.
Anyway, what I did most of last year during my short trips outside my house to the supermarket, the pharmacy, and a few other essential places was take photographs of people in masks doing the same ordinary, essential stuff I was doing in our vastly-altered national circumstances.
And now I’ve made a book of my favorites of those photographs.
And, as with my last two books, I’m making it available to you for free. It’s full of both color and monochrome photos of folks in the same kinds of places doing the the same kinds of things you have been doing since this national disaster started in March, 2020.
I’d love to hear your comments or criticisms. You can unload on me about “It’s In Their Eyes” by leaving a comment on this post, or by contacting me via Facebook, or Twitter.
Thanks for having a look, and I hope you enjoy “It’s In Their Eyes”.
(Brisbane, California, January 21, 2021. See my other work here.)
he was bored
and, the day being hot and slow,
I understood that.
And he said
he was on mushrooms
and, being a recovering alcoholic,
I smiled quietly at that.
(Photographed in Brisbane, California in September, 2020. See my other work here.)
And, lo, there was a bird
outside the picture window
of the living room
where my father-in-law died.
It was a day of peace
I was entertaining a friend
with dinner in the living room,
and the bird was
just being its bird self.
It had nothing to do
with what happened
to my father-in-law
in that living room,
but being there
made me think of him
and whether in some way
he was in the bird
and looking in
on the home of the life
he left behind.
(Photographed in Brisbane, California in September, 2020. See my other work here.)
After 20 years
I don’t have it
in me anymore
to not love you
more than my life
more than mankind
more than any life
You have saved me
so many times
I’m pretty sure
you hold the mortgage
on my soul.
If I believed in souls.
If I did
you would be one,
an immense, timeless
holy, anti-entropy soul.
And I love you
any version of god
anyone ever invented
and sold by the pound
to the poor, needy,
You are better than all of that, ever.
You are beyond that
in my uneasy mind,
a mind troubled by
literally every fucking thing
I want to hold on to you
to love you
and have you
for 100 years more.
Alive, I mean.
I know you knew that.
There’s no sin
in the simplicity
of hoping for
an impossible wish.
I already got one: you.
And I want
another 100 years of you,
because the 20
we’ve been married
seem like enough.
(In California in 1991, 2005, and 2019. See my other work here and here.)