One Whole Page!

It was the Best of Times, it was the Blurst of Times

I’ve written the first page of my novel. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s not spectacular, but rather than hit select all > delete, I just keep telling myself “first draft, first draft, it's just the first draft”. I will probably be too lazy to do a second draft, if I ever actually do complete a first draft. But telling myself that makes me feel better. I will at least go through it and cut out all the shitty run-on sentences, and over punctuation, and spelling mistakes. I’m not that lazy. Not quite.

It went better than I expected though. I wasn’t too sure how to start it. But I persevered. You’ll be riveted to know, in the first page alone, there have been a bunch of swear words (come on, it’s me – what did you expect?), sex, drugs, a hangover, vomiting and potentially a murder. Also some domestic abuse, which I’m not proud of, but was necessary for the drama. Stop looking at me like that. It’s fiction. Really, I’m very much against it. Someone just got murdered ferchrissakes, can we focus on that? Actually, after reading American Psycho, I’m convinced Bret Easton Ellis is a sociopath. You can’t think that shit up without being a little disturbed. It’s still a great book, and he’s still one of my favorite authors, but if you are at all squeamish, don’t read it… says the guy who has sex, drugs, domestic abuse and murder on the first page of his (wannabe) novel.

Anyway, you can’t read it. Yet. I’m way too self-conscious,for that right now, but maybe as I get deeper into it, I’ll send you lovely people some tidbits from it. If you ask really nicely. But it genuinely was nice to get behind the keyboard and let my imagination go. I haven’t done that in a very long time, and I realized how much I miss it. So I’ll keep on trucking, and hopefully someday, you’ll see my name on amazon and download it onto your kindle for, I dunno, probably 25 cents, or free, or I might even offer people money just to read it. So I can tell people I “sold” 15 whole copies of my novel.

The Writer Who Wouldn't Write

We've All Felt This Way, Right?

I’m starting to believe that my creativity has died. That it has vanished into the ether, like my youth and my disposable income. When I was 23 I had the imagination to write whatever I wanted. I wasn’t as good a writer as I am now, in the technical sense – I was full of the energetic impatience of youth. I was cocky, using unnecessarily big words and glib cliches. I’m a better writer now, but bereft; back then, I was full of ideas. They fell of my fingers and onto the screen like the alcohol and drugs that got splashed and swallowed and snorted into my young body. Now it’s difficult for me to even come up with an idea for this fucking blog. I try to find funny, interesting stories about my domestic life to write about – and I know they’re there, because my kids are fucking mental – but there’s only so many blog posts I can write about not getting enough sleep, or trying to be a good parent while depressed. And outside of my domestic life, I have no life. Save work, which I don’t write about much, because I would like to remain unfired.

When I was twenty-three, I didn’t have the time to write. I was a burgeoning alcoholic. My weekends were spent on booze-fueled quest for trashy chicks in trashier nightclubs. My weekdays were spent fueling my weekends. I was young, drunk and full of spunk. My passion for writing was pushed aside as I lived the life of a typical twentysomething with more balls than brains. I guess I assumed my writing would be waiting for me. That it would marinate, and I would come back to it. But that's not quite how it works. As I grew older I became frustrated by my lack of forward momentum. I wrote bit-parts of novels and essays with little or no passion or direction. The people  family and friends who encouraged and lauded me, stopped asking me about my writing "career", some asked when I would get a real one. It became an embarrassment, a noose around my neck. David the writer, became David who can't find his direction. So I quit.

Slowly my depression grew. I'm not going to tell you that the loss of my dream and the acceleration of my mental illness were in any way analogous, but they certainly complemented one another. Eventually the party started to wind down. When the music stopped and everybody left, I sat at the bar drinking bottom shelf liquor and bemoaning the gaping hole in my life.

I met my wife around the time I decided to wind down the partying lifestyle. I kept drinking; I just did a lot more of it alone. You can strip away the friends, and the music and the flashy lights, but as long as you have the booze, as long as you get the buzz, none of that matters. I hadn't yet realized I was an alcoholic, because I hadn't tried to stop. That's when you know she has you in her clutches: when you try to leave her, but you keep on coming back. 

It seemed the more I drank, the less I wrote. The less I wrote, the less I felt like a writer. Until I stopped completely. Of course life moved on, as it always does. My wife and I got married and had kids; we eventually faced my addiction, and I failed and failed and failed at conquering it. I had some dry spells, but I'd gradually ease back into casual drinking, and then one night I'd get fucked up and vomit in the bath tub, and I'd start again on the long path to sobriety.

One day, three or four May's ago, the air tingling with the onset of summer and my wife's trust returning, I asked her could I spend some time alone writing. Our son was 6 months old and we lived in a small apartment where space was an issue. So every Monday morning, for a few months, I took myself down to the public library and wrote for a few hours on end. This was perfect, because I was doing a lot of reading: and discovered some wonderful novels in this time. Anyway, I had the idea of writing a thriller/revenge novel. The idea wasn't blistering, but it was okay, and I figured if I could write it well, it would be unique and interesting. After four weeks, I read over it, and it was shit. Absolute garbage. The pacing was all wrong; it read more like a synopsis than a script. It was cheesy and without of any kind of originality or ingenuity. I was gutted. I sat in shock for about twenty minutes, then I got up returned my books to the lady at the counter, and quit writing. Then I went for a beer.

And that leads me to this blog. Which I started sometime in January. Some two and a half years later. I wasn't writing for popularity, or for traffic, or to promote anything; I was just writing for the sake of it: For myself. Although I have to admit I am absolutely thrilled that I have a small few regular readers who seem to love what I write. I'm grateful for their support. So what's this post all about then? Why do I feel my creativity has left me? The answer is: I don't know.

I'm not quitting writing again, or anything rash like that. I need to return to fiction. I need to start reading again, and writing down the ideas that come to me. I need to work those mental muscles so I can produce ideas I'm proud of, not staring at the screen wondering if I should buy a puppy just so I can write a blog post about him shitting on the floor. So maybe this blog will take a back seat a little. Maybe it'll be the stepping stone back into serious writing which is what I intended it to be in the first place. 

So if I occasionally disappear for a little while, don't panic; I'm not gone anywhere. I've just got some other stuff going on. And maybe I'll even send you all a signed copy of my first novel. After all, guy can dream.

Oedipus, Simple!

Lock Up Your... Cats

My son sleeps with my wife. I sleep in the next room -- his! It’s an arrangement that would make Oedipus himself puce with jealousy. There’s a simple enough explanation for this, and no it doesn’t rhyme with divschmorce. The reason: my son is a fucking bully.

My wife and I have obviously discussed the situation. It used to be my job, but now she’s taken the reins of putting him to bed every night. She claims he won’t go to sleep in his own bed. “Mommy’s bed; Mommy’s bed!!!” he demands, when she takes him up. Mommy doesn’t say no, so the kid winds up passing out on my side of the bed.

In the beginning, I’d simply carry him back in. This was about as effective as eating soup with a fork. Within minutes, the child would be straight back in. Lodging himself between me and my wife. I should point out my wife sleeps with about fifty pillows under her head. No joke, she’s practically sitting up. It’s kinda creepy. But it means me and the kid effectively share half a bed, because he’d need a fucking Sherpa to climb up onto her side. One time, after I returned him to bed for the tenth time that night, I went to use the bathroom. An when I got back to bed... there he was, IN MY BED! It was like a fucking cartoon: you know Pepe Le Pew – the skunk who rapes cats... for the amusement of children – when he’s chasing down his lady, and she keeps running away from him, but there he is wherever she hides? It was like that.

So one night I just climbed into his bed, and had the best sleep I’d had in weeks. I know this, because when he came running in shouting “Daddy, daddy”, at 7am, I actually felt capable of functioning like a regular human being, without mainlining a gallon of coffee. Of course, I had a gallon of coffee anyway. I like coffee.

The only person who wasn’t pleased with this new arrangement was my wife. She missed her husband? I kept her warm at night? She liked to occasionally watch me sleep, serene and vulnerable, but still somehow oh so masculine? None of the above. She had nobody to share baby-feeding duties with (and by share I mean get-him-to-do-all-of-them). Conveniently, she soon discovered that whenever our 5 month old awoke, wailing for a bottle and a new diaper, she had to use the bathroom. Every fucking time! “Baby, would you mind getting Eva? I have to use the bathroom”. And I would trudge down the hall to my (old) bedroom like a zombie – an old-fashioned zombie, not one of those terrifying modern, ultra-fast zombies – and feed my daughter at the foot of the bed, while my son and my wife slept soundly.

At least I like coffee.

It's All About The Money

Under That Jacket, This Guy is RIPPED!

I’m writing this from the sanctuary of the bathroom today. My family keep assaulting me with hugs and love, and demands of my attention. Can’t a guy get some peace. My wife is on a crusade to find all our legal documents. We’re trying to extract as much money from the government as possible. Today’s mission: to claim “Child Allowance”. For the uninitiated, child allowance is essentially free money from the government for having kids. Yup, that’s one of the few perks of living in commie, left-wing Europe. If you cut us, we bleed, eh... red. It’s not insignificant either: I get 260 Euro for my two kids. That’s about $350. A month. That buys a lot of diapers and crayons.

We’re also trying to get registered as a married couple, which will lower my tax rate, because here in commie, left-wing Europe we pay insanely high taxes. It’s so that we can pay everybody “Child Allowance”. I know; I’m from here and I don’t get it. Trying to understand the reasoning of some of our laws would push you to the limits of your sanity, and beyond. I just do what I do whenever I’m faced with something I don’t understand I just smile and nod. I seem do that a lot. I think it’s weirding people out.

I don’t look at my bank statements much; if I want to read a horror story, I’ll pick up a Stephen King book. But I needed to log in to get some details for my wife. Anyway, I noticed a charge of 67 Euro for something called “Ripped Muscle”. I don’t have ripped muscles, so I’m feeling a little short changed by that. I think I remember signing up for a free sample of some kind of supplement though. I must have given them my debit card number. Why? I hear you ask? Well, isn’t it obvious? I’m fucking retarded, clearly.

I also saw a charge of $167 from Hertz Rent-a-car. I called customer service, and they have no idea what the charge is for. They said they’d call me back. I feel like maybe karma has bitten me in the ass on this one, but we’ll see. I’m sure they’ll find a reason for the charge. Either that or they’ll give me a coupon for $167 worth of car rental, that I’ll never need to use. Either way, I won’t hold my breath for a refund.

Well, I gotta go now, my son is knocking on the door looking for “love” and “affection”. Can’t I get a damn moment to myself?

Giant Cock

Caption Not Necessary

So my place of employment is blocking my blog. Or at least, they’re blocking my most recent post. I’m not sure why. I used the word “fuck”, as I do in pretty much every post paragraph sentence I write, but this time I used it in its literal sense. I also mentioned a vagina, and had sex in the title. But mostly I just discussed my beard. Obviously, there’s some kind of filter on the word sex, which is fucking hilarious when you think about it. And by degrees depressing when you think about it some more.

Last I checked, pretty much everyone I work with is an adult. Which historically has meant that we are capable of making our own decisions in life. Now, those choices could include looking at pornography, in a public setting, in the offices of a major, Fortune 500 corporation. Decisions like that, however, make you a fucking idiot. Nobody is going to do it (and even if they did... so fucking what? It’s just fucking fucking. Where’s the crime?). Putting a filter to block out certain words, so that grown men and women don’t see some skin on their break is a ridiculous display of censorship.

But the kicker, for me, is I didn’t even use the word porn, or pornography, or blowjob, or cumshot, or leather-clad midgets, which are the terms we actually use when we want to get intimate with our laptops. Who the hell types “sex” when they want to see hardcore porn? I haven’t typed that into a searchbar since 1995. The word “sex” has a vast myriad of uses other than people fucking. Hell, the word is on my 5 month-old daughter’s birth certificate. Or maybe it says “gender”... I need to research more. But that just further proves my point. Maybe the internet has corrupted us all a little, maybe it has dragged our minds gutter-wards, but by filtering out a simple little grown-up word like “sex”, ISP’s and businesses, and all the other censors out there are merely compounding the adolescent, chuckling association with it.

Anyway, I figured I'd name this one something entirely different. It’s not entirely accurate. Despite what it says in the narrative of my last post (if you could read it), it’s not that big (that was what we in the business call “creative license.”) So tell me... is this better?

Sex Or The Beard

The Holy Grail of Fat Guys with Beards

“You really need to do something about that… that thing on your face,” was the delightful greeting from my wife this morning. “It’s not even a proper beard; you need to trim it, groom it. It looks like a 1970’s vagina.” I’ve never been a beard guy. I know beards are manly, but what’s more manly than drawing a razor sharp blade across your face every morning? That’s fucking hardcore if you ask me. But I guess every guy, at some point in their life should grow a beard, right? I mean it’s one of the defining qualities of being a guy – our ability to grow a big fuck-off beard. So this is my time.

I had never actually intended on growing one. It just happened when I stopped shaving. It’s a depression beard. When you just about manage to bathe and clothe yourself, shaving is decorative folly. But as the fog lifted, I found the beard to be quite fetching. “It really brings out my lips.” I told my wife. “It makes you look fat.” She countered, unfairly in my opinion. “Actually, you’ll find it’s my fat that makes me look fat; my beard just makes me look awesome.” “I’m not having sex with you ‘til you shave that thing off.” “You know withholding sex only actually works with people who actually have sex with each other.” This statement thus began a huge argument about me not understanding her needs, and never listening to her, etc. (at least I think that’s what she said). But that's ok; it takes the heat off my precious beard.

My kids like my beard too. My three year old keeps asking what it is. “It’s a beard,” I tell him. He seems satisfied. And my 5 month old daughter keeps trying to grab it. I assume that’s an endorsement. Of course, I’ll shave it off eventually. I’m not a beard guy. And anyway, that sharpened steel is calling for my face.

Then my wife can go back to her regular list of reasons not to have sex with me. My morning breath, my bad moods, my inability to communicate with her, my lack of understanding about her illness, my intimidatingly large penis, and a hundred other character flaws that don’t make me Prince fucking Charming. Of course, all I hear is “It’s because you’re fat.”

Of course we have sex sometimes. We have kids, dammit. Kids that look like me. Sometimes we go through spells where the sex is flowing like cheap beer at a frat house. And then, zip… nada. The rain stops falling and the ground becomes arid and desert-like. Right now I’m somewhere in the Sahara. I think I just saw a camel.

I know it’s not going to be like the old days, we have two young kids who give us literally minutes of time to ourselves daily. My wife suffers from a chronic illness, and I’m a depressive, recovering alcoholic. But it’s just sex. Can’t we just fuck in the bathroom at 4 a.m.? I’d be game for that. Either way, until I get some sex, the beard is here to stay!

From beneath....

Well this is awkward. I kinda feel like the family member who borrows a bunch of money, and then disappears for a few years, before showing up at a funeral or some shit. I’m not good with awkward conversation and platitudes, so we’ll gracefully move on and perhaps you’ll listen while I fill you in on the past 3 months of my life.

So on May 6th of this year, my family and I were sent kicking and screaming back to Ireland, by my work. I had tomporarily relocated to Oregon in January 2012 and we had hoped to stay a bit longer there. Somewhere in the region of forever. Alas, it wasn’t to be, and we were sent back to the old country. My wife who is American, didn’t seem to mind a whole lot, despite the loss of our not insignificant expense account. Like I said, she’s American, and I think she is still waiting to see a leprechaun or some shit. Me, I’ve lived here all my life. People tell me all the time how great a place Ireland is to visit, or if they’ve never been, how much they would love to visit. The key word here is “visit”. That is: fly in, kiss the Blarney Stone, drink lots of Guinness and get the fuck out of dodge. When you deal with the high taxes, and shitty infrastructure, and abysmal healthcare, and shitty weather on a daily basis, it becomes akin to a kind of large insane asylum with bad food.

Ok, ok, I’m being harsh. Truth is, our move didn’t go too smoothly, and I’m perhaps a little bitter. Plus there’s fuck all to do when the national past-time is drinking, and you’re an alcoholic. We arrived with nowhere to live and no car. We were staying in my Mom’s and driving a rental, so there was pressure to buy a car and get somewhere to live. After a week I bought a used BMW from the archetypal greasy used car salesman. And as you would expect, within a week, the engine fucking exploded (not literally, it was the exhaust manifold, but I spent a month waiting on the guy to get it fixed). After about three weeks, we found somewhere to live: a slightly overpriced -- but the only place in our search that felt like it could be home -- house in a quiet little neighborhood near work. Unfortunately, this was about two and a half weeks after living with my Mom had become un-fucking-bearable. We hadn’t seen the woman in 18 months, and within days she made it clear our welcome was eroding on pace with my sanity. Disclaimer: I love my mom, and she’s been wonderfully kind to us. It just was way too crowded for us all, and the feeling that we had invaded her privacy swarmed the air like a siren call.

I also realised that I hate my fucking job. The perks, and the cameraderie that I had with the guys in Oregon was not there when I got back to the Irish office. So all I was left with was work itself, which I have little interest or passion for. We’d also eaten into our savings a lot more than we’d anticipated, and then I remembered that alcohol existed. So I started drinking again. Because that’s what total fucking idiots like me do.

So the blog -- this blog -- just kind of died. There was no place for it in my life with two small kids, and settling into a new home, and trying to get your car fixed from a sheister who kept trying to get me to go halves on the cost of repairs (yeah right, pal), and drinking, and guilt, and drinking some more, and a job I hated, and hangovers. Eventually, about two weeks ago, I put the bottle back down. I was deriving little pleasure from it; just numbness. Which is kind of when you know you are an alcoholic. If it’s not social, it’s poison. And my wife and I talked things through. We got some long-standing issues out of the way, and things were better... much better. And I thought about maybe writing again. But it just didn’t happen.

You see, all that other stuff is only half of the story. Because during it all, and maybe because of it all, I fell into a pretty hardcore depression. Not gloominess, or sadness, but a bitter unyielding malaise. Those that suffer from depression can maybe Identify. I’ve been suffering from it for a long time -- it comes and goes with me -- and I’ve been on antidepressants for about 3 and a half years. Those that don’t suffer... it’s almost unexplainable. For me, it’s just an unbearable hollowness -- like somebody just scooped out my insides, everything important about me, and now I’m just left wandering around like Heathcliff’s Cathy, banging on windows and shit, looking for all the important stuff I’ve lost in my life. And that relentless emptiness just wears away at you, until it’s raw and agonising. It’s like heartbreak and  profound apathy rolled into one horrific psychologically scarred ball. And to just play with my kids, or shower, or hug my wife, is a grappling, struggle, like swimming through honey. So yeah, “fuck this blog” was kinda where I was at.

But another part of me missed it deeply. I was aware that I was treading water, that I was barely going through the motions of living a life, and that there were a lot of holes that needed filling, and part of me was desperate to fill them. But when everything is so painful, it’s hard to even know where to start. And in all honesty, there has never really been a time in my life when there haven’t been holes to fill.

I guess I’m out of the deepest part of this depression. I hadn’t seen her face in years, and had almost forgotten her touch, but when you’re gobbling Cymbalta and valium like they’re movie theater popcorn, it’s easier to avoid. It still lingers though. I almost cried tonight, leaving my son for the night shift (crying’s good though -- it’s the numbness, the void, that’s so hateful; crying is a fucking vacation from that). But I’ll keep pushing on. I’ve upped my dosage of meds, and will try to find a good therapist nearby. I might even start meditation again. And as cliche as it sounds, I need to start liking myself. I’ve been through a lot of pain in my life, and most of that was self-imposed. There’s an anchor of guilt and shame hanging around my neck. I’ve hurt people: ex-girlfriends, discarded friends, family... my closest family. Christ! It’s hard knowing there are folk out there who actively despise you, even years after our last countenance. I haven’t just burned bridges; I’ve scorched the earth behind me. Those closest to me have forgiven me, but I’m just not sure if I have.

So I’m back. I can return to describing the zany machinations of my everyday life, while we guffaw in unison at my mild misfortune and embarrassment., m’kay? So just forget you read all this, and we’ll talk soon.