Life in My Childhood Bedroom (Video)
The features of my face and a poem from a reader.
This is a video of me riffing on some of the usual themes, my illness, my non-life, suffering, in the sort of personal YouTube testimony genre. After dwelling in the shadows for years, it’s nice to come out from behind the screen and show the features of my face. Some sentiments come through stronger that way. I used to do some vlogs and stuff years ago but I never really hit the right notes and just ended up using my YouTube channel to split clips of other people talking while I dove further into the private experience of writing. The video is a bit raw and choppy, though however it comes across I think it’s a fairly accurate reflection of my current state.
I‘ve still yet to make the move out to New Mexico and time is very much feeling like a flat circle (though it’s looking like it’ll be November). It was not easy to film this video and took me more than a few tries and days to get it right, both because my condition is very distracting and because I don’t always know what to say for myself at this point. I’m lost in a maze of pathology and the feeling is that things will get worse until they get better (and already have). I became quite emotional and broke down on a couple attempts, which is always good for the clicks, but ultimately this more stoic footage was where I said more of what I wanted to say and content matters more to me than affect. I was using the fairly common experience of ‘failing to launch’ as a way to talk about the weirder and specific elements of my life and condition. Let me know your thoughts.
Once again I wanted to express my gratitude to everyone here, for simply being here and being you. It’s a lot to ask of anyone to give attention and time and energy to someone else’s words and to take in the raw emotions beneath them. I don’t always know what I’m doing here or why, nor am I always aware of what I’m asking of people or why. Is this a form of entertainment or charity? Am I just desperately flailing, or is something good actually happening here? The most I can say about this Substack is that it’s been a kind of touchstone for me to see if anything I say makes any sense at all to anyone anymore or if I’m just completely out of sync with the universe. There’s always this jolt of fear in me, I’ve noticed, whenever I say anything publicly now, that I’m totally alien and just haven’t yet realized it and everyone can see how ridiculous and out of touch I am except for me.
I’ve been published many times in different outlets and received the stamp of approval from larger-looming figures and yet it’s always a bit terrifying for me to send out this newsletter, because it’s just me and you and there’s no gatekeeping magazine or editor standing between us to alleviate some responsibility. But that’s also what makes this exciting, because, who cares, right? I’m just some dude with some problems who cultivated the ability to describe things reasonably well, and if I say something totally weird and self-exposing, well, then it is what it is and that’s that and there’s something cathartic about kind of just accepting that and in turn accepting myself a bit more.
What I’m trying to say is thank you for being here and for implicitly accepting me, and to express that appreciation, I wanted to share a poem by a dear reader, Elizabeth Marlow, who by my lights is a lovely human being and a beautiful writer. Her piece, The First Few Wild Flowers, speaks to a certain desolateness I can relate to and an underlying grace and light and hope that I reach for. It’s delicious and nutritious and there’s much to gnaw on and I hope you dig right in and savor every mouth-watering bite. The poem asks what we are to do in the face of darkness, death and tragedy — how can anything grow from such desolate land? (my interpretation) The imagery is stark and potent, “… the caked blood of young men alienated. Their lives cracked valleys of drugs, of guns, of ropes…Yet, somehow, in this boiling topsoil, stalks of emerald green emerge glittering and unafraid... Petals of peach, plum, and lavender. Gold at their center. Each one an angel’s face tilting in reverence towards the wind and possibility.” I mean, wow. Thank you for writing this, Elizabeth, and for your support, and for all of your support. To brighter days and greener pastures, my friends. To the wind and possibility.
The First Few Wild Flowers
What could possibly grow here?
What could possibly grow in this desecrated ground
rutted and crumbling, collapsing in on itself.
What could possibly grow from the caked blood
of young men alienated. Their lives
cracked valleys of drugs, of guns, of ropes.
What could possibly grow on this land
made infertile by deafness and
hearts that have stopped beating.
Yet, somehow, in this boiling topsoil
stalks of emerald green emerge glittering
and unafraid of this unfriendly field.
Petals of peach, plum, and lavender.
Gold at their center. Each one
an angel’s face tilting in reverence
towards the wind and possibility.
At ease on this famished, inhospitable plain.
Fearlessly shimmering before God
and the rest of us, who are terrified.
The first few wild flowers.
Their roots, effortlessly, mysteriously expand round us.
Securing our fragile, fractured places,
calming our nameless fears, embracing
the icy layers of our agony.
Pistil and stamen, cradled in the sepal’s bowl,
reach ever upwards, adorned with pollen,
crystalline nectar, sunshine and violet.
They call the bees, the butterflies, and
our forgotten selves to a place of infinite belonging.
In the silence of their stillness
we hear the breeze caressing leaf and stem,
catching our hearts. We feel the whisper within.
The truth of our own breath.
Certain, now, it is the seed of grace.
The first few wild flowers.
We stand before God and are brave.
Love to all,