Free eBook! (Wordless)

My new poetry book, Wordless, is free today for Kindle! Check it out! And please share the news. 🙂 This is my fourth published poetry collection, I hope you enjoy. Let’s keep the momentum going.

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Well: I Relapsed (September of 2016) from Visions (Part 3)

It’s important to me that I share this.

The final part of this essay …

That night in the hospital was easily one of the worst nights of my life. I knew this was where I needed to be, but at the same time, I had wondered if I’d made a mistake by voluntarily committing myself.

I remember walking up with the guy I’d talked to about Heidegger and other philosophical anomalies, and then being committed. It was interesting, because at first, things seemed familiar, but then, something seemed off. Something felt wrong. I couldn’t quite explain what it was, though, that was off. In retrospect, I assume it was my mood that was off, my feelings, the raging psychosis. I assume indeed it was my feelings that were off: I was in survival mode and I didn’t realize hwo much longer I was going to stay alive. I’d just experienced way too much, and I needed time…

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Well: I Relapsed (September of 2016) from Visions (Part 2)

Part 3 soon to come …

But, I knew that I couldn’t let things get worse for me. I had to keep going. I had to keep trying. I had to keep pushing myself.

I could make myself … good.

So, I continued walking, wondering if the city was being destroyed and if I was in the worst place on Earth, where reality destabilizes, where you become nothing.

I found my way to another dormitory, this one by way of a guy I found attractive, and someone who I thought was trying to lead me. He had headphones in, and was wearing a red shirt. I sang, “Speak to me, freely. I am listening,” by Between the Buried in Me to him, thinking that would somehow communicate the intense feelings I had in general. The intense feelings I had, generally. It was a beautiful encounter, because I felt like I…

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Well: I Relapsed (September of 2016) from Visions (Part 1)

About a year ago today, add or take away a few days, I was in the hospital for my mental illness. In a three-part essay, I describe what led up to this. It was all very traumatic, but I learned a lot. Check out the essay. I hope you enjoy.

From my in-progress book on mental illness …

Yes: I relapsed. I guess, just too much suffering, for too long, and it got to a point where I could no longer handle my situation, my mind, my life, my circumstances, my treatment for my mental illness at North Valley, my mental illness in general, etc.

I’m not happy saying this. I thought I had built a conceptual apparatus, a system of thought, that could keep me stabilized in a chaotic and dangerous world. I thought that I was stronger than hospitalization and even medication, and that I was hard like a diamond (Nietzsche …), and that my mind could make it. But, it seems that mental illness is a real thing, and while there may be no cure for the soul, there is a cure for, seemingly at least, biological anomalies.

It started simple enough. A series of events led…

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Avenged Sevenfold: Live! (an essay)

My Avenged Sevenfold story. 😍😍

Avenged Sevenfold: Live

I got to see one of my favorite bands live. That’s right, Avenged Sevenfold. It was a great experience. Music, and their music, moves me in very complicated and in-depth ways. I enjoy their music, their prog-style and knowledge of music, they are a wonderful band.

Part of me wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to go see them. Part of the issue was transportation, part of it was money. But I worked out those details, and got to see them.

I really enjoy their music. For a while now, I’ve been listening to their music. I first fell in love with their style when I started listening to their album Nightmare. It’s a really good CD, I find the album to be powerful and powerfully haunting. It was the album that got me into them. It wasn’t too long after where I discovered their album Waking the Fallen, which I really enjoyed. It was unlike music I’d never really heard before. It was heavy, but brilliant. And I appreciated their style of heaviness, because the vocals were rough and raw, what I loved, yet they had that clean progressive rock style. In other words, they knew what they were doing musically for this album and for all their others. They are talented and amazing in what they produce.

I of course also started listening to their album Hail to the King, which I loved. And then their most recent album, The Stage, which in my mind really cements their talent in my mind. They are eclectic and unique. They have their own sound.

For a while now, I’ve been listening to their album Avenged Sevenfold, as I write. This has been nice, honestly. Their music pumps me up and gets me in the mood to write. This has been even more helpful, because I’ve been in a writer’s block, one could say, and I need music that’s going to uplift me and inspire me, challenge me.

Anyway, back to the concert: My friend dropped me off, and I went inside. I was so excited to see them, I couldn’t wait even a couple of hours. But alas, I had to, because they were still a little ways away.

I went to find my spot on the lawn (the venue was Usana Ampitheater), and chilled for a little bit. What could I expect, except for this to be an amazing time? I definitely allowed myself to chill, then deciding that I needed to get food, maybe check out their merchandise.

So, I went to see what was going on, hoping to get a t-shirt or something, I was excited. The line was super long, but I decided it would be worth it to hang out in the line for a while. Because I wanted a cool Avenged Sevenfold shirt. So, I hung out. And when it was finally my turn, I got a shirt with the words God Damn written on the front, in bold white letters on a black shirt. I liked this idea, because to me it seemed subversive. But very cool. It was something I wanted, and it was a good deal. I had to splurge for this shirt, it was too cool.

As I went to go get some food, deciding between an expensive piece of pizza or something else, I couldn’t help but think about the joy that rock stars must have in their life. Of course, I have heard that rock stars have their own issues, it isn’t all perfect and smooth for them. But, as I was thinking about how fun it would be to be a rock star, it made me wish that I could be charismatic like them and make an impact like them. That night, as I was thinking about what I’d just seen, an amazing concert experience, I thought about I wished so bad that I could move people the way Avenged Sevenfold has moved me. I was hoping I could accomplish this with my writing. I realized that it probably will never happen, but that was okay, I was hopeful that nonetheless maybe I’ll do something amazing with my art one day. Just like this great band.
I settled on fries and bottled water, not the best dinner and it was more expensive than I’d anticipated, but I wasn’t that hungry, probably because I was so excited for them.

I listened to A Day to Remember and a new band called Horror, and I enjoyed seeing them live.

And then, I watched as they set up for Avenged Sevenfold. I couldn’t help but think, there are other good bands out there, why does this band specifically speak to me so much? I think, I realized in retrospect, I like their heavy rock sound, I like their progressive style and experimental approach, and I like their vocals. Actually, getting used to M Shadows’ voice took some getting used to, when I was young, I actually didn’t like his voice. But then I started listening to them, and my attitude changed.

I couldn’t help but feel so excited that they were going to come out soon enough. I got excited as I watched everyone set up the stage, and I couldn’t help but feel so excited.

Drum roll … drum roll please … and then, feeling like a stud, I watched as they came out on the stage.

They opened up with their song The Stage, which is a song I like a lot, but even though it’s clearly one of their best, I feel like they have better songs. Which is crazy, they must be a good band if their best isn’t even their best. I’d seen this song live in a music video, and I’d really liked it, so this was a strong song to open up with. Very fun, intense, complex: amazing.

The next song they played was Afterlife. This song I’ve really been obsessing over with, especially as I write. I love this song, it’s got such a nice opening and it’s such a nice style. And great lyrics, very hopeful. I love the bridge the most, I couldn’t help but sing it when they got to it.

I didn’t know what to expect, I knew that I was just going on for the ride. I got super excited when they played Paradigm, and I realized that the song to me seemed to be about artificial intelligence and augmenting ourselves with technology. At least in that moment, the lyrics seemed to be about that. They painted an image in my mind.

They played all the songs I’d want to hear. The songs that hit me the most, however, seemed to be songs I’d underrated as I listened to them. I literally probably had the most fun with their song Buried Alive, because it’s so fucking good, goddamned good. The riffs near the end of the song are killer, and I honestly can’t even explain why, it’s just such cathartic and freeing music. I couldn’t help but really get into that song, really enjoying it. I told myself in moments like this, that I really needed to engage with life, because life is so fleeting and because we don’t know what happens to us. We need to engage deeply. So I chose to do that with Avenged Sevenfold.

All the while, I was wishing I could, with my art, my writing, impact people the way that rock stars have impacted my life. They have really given me pause, made me think about the world in different ways, while, despite their darkness of heart, offer a lot of hope to me. I think that if I have music, I have a reason to live. Even the songs are countercultural. We need that counterculture, goddmamn it.

One of their best songs live though was literally their song God Damn. I was so fucking blown away by that song, because it’s a really unique song, even among their discography. I think that song really exemplifies Avenged Sevenfold’s unique musical style. They aren’t afraid to take risks, yet they play with such a deep creative sincerity. And it’s one of their heaviest songs, which I realized in that moment.

Though, I was surprised at how heavy the song Hail to the King was. I love that song, it’s so beautiful, but I’ve always taken for granted how deep and heavy that song is. It’s wonderful. It’s amazing.

I could go on and on about their set list, but I think it’s important to focus on how their music makes me feel. And while I understand that what they have is unique, a unique expression and gift to the world, I know that I may never be able to, with my writing, achieve what they have. But I nonetheless take inspiration from their music, I find it cathartic and beautiful, I love their music and I hope that I can at least leave some kind of legacy with my writing. I hope that I can one day be as cool as Avenged Sevenfold. It would be nice, for sure.

Grappling with Death

 

Many of the truths I’ve come to, I’ve come by way of the intellect. The necessary truths that I see as really close to me, I gathered because of rationality and my reasoning ability. But even as I do this, I’ve been aware that many truths I have to come to via other means, such as emotion and feeling. This is an unpleasant truth to me, because many of the truths I know I’ve gathered through reading philosophy, philosophy of which is very rational and reasoned. But some things in life are inexplicable, and you can’t easily explain it with an idea or concept. Of course, this challenges my worldview, and forces me to get out of my comfort zone. I appreciate that, but it makes some lessons painful and highly difficult.

 
My grandfather passed away only a few days ago. And since then, I’ve been grappling very strongly with death. Death seems cruel to me, but it also seems necessary, seeing as how death is a part of life. But that doesn’t mean that I look at death in a positive light, though I’ve been trying to do just that, to see the greater and grander purpose of something as inexplicable as death.

 
Obviously, I didn’t want my grandfather to die. He went in one of the worst ways possible, died by cancer. This is made even more sad by the fact that he’d already had many ailments, and cancer just compounded him. I think cancer was so cruel to him that he gave up on any will to live. Clearly, wrestling with this is very difficult, because it brings up questions of suffering. Obviously I never wanted my grandfather to suffer, and definitely didn’t want him to suffer this much.

 
I found out about my grandfather’s passing as I was taking a long trip on the bus, from Salt Lake to Lubbock, and I saw that he’d passed that morning, I saw it on my Facebook account. When I heard the news, I felt sad, but I also felt confused. Had my grandfather really passed, or was I reading something that was misinformed. For a moment, I was in denial, because I didn’t think that he could ever die. I knew he was headed towards death, but I honestly thought I’d have more time. We always think we have more time, but we actually don’t, in most cases, and I wish there was more I could have done to be here for my grandfather. Part of the difficulty was the long distance and figuring out how I’d pay for transportation, and it was also because I wasn’t on good terms with my family at the time. But I nonetheless felt a feeling of allegiance and compassion and love, to visit my grandfather, who I was sure I’d have so much more time with.

 
Dealing with the death, I posted once on my Facebook that having a loved one die leaves a space, a hole, that is impossible to feel. I saw this when my mother and Uncle picked me up, saw it in my mother for sure, who looked literally lost, and had an expression that indicated deep and utter loss. It’s hard to explain these things or intellectualize them, but the expression was there, and it was so fucking heartbreaking. I didn’t want to see this. I was sad my mother looked this way, looked this sad, because I wanted to take the pain away, but knew I couldn’t take it away. I knew in this moment there was literally nothing I could do.

 
I’ll never forget that look, because I understand it completely. It was the look of someone whose father had passed, the realization, the deep realization, that he was never coming back. This was the first moment where this harsh truth, of never seeing someone again, made itself apparent in my life and literally broke my heart.

 
I know I can’t intellectualize pain, I wrote that on my Facebook as well. You can’t intellectualize pain, grief, and loss, the same way you can philosophical concepts. We can think about death in intellectual ways, but as my mother said, it’s much more emotional. And this forces me out of my element, not because I’m out of touch with my emotions, but because I’m too close to my emotions. I am a really emotionally intense person, and even though I sometimes hide this and obscure this, I nonetheless feel it, and feel deeply. I turned to philosophy in fact, the creator of reason, as a way of coping. I needed some way to deal with all of the harsh things I was seeing in life, and philosophy helped shine a light on these deep mysteries of life.

 
Of course, there is a philosophy of death, though I can’t think of any prominent writers except for maybe Heidegger. And I find the philosophy of death to be comforting to some degree. But I also find it to be challenging, that the philosophy of death can’t explain feelings of loss. These feelings of loss are powerful, and they don’t necessarily get easier, though they get more manageable.

 
All day yesterday, I had this heavy feeling in my heart. It was sadness, but it was also something I wasn’t familiar with. I suppose it was grief and loss, feelings of grief and loss. It occurred to me that I was experiencing deep emotions dealing with such strong feelings of grief, and I wasn’t ready for it, but it was there nonetheless.

 
I haven’t cried since my grandfather died, but I probably will when I go back home and am no longer around family. I haven’t cried because I can’t allow myself to be that vulnerable with my family. There are many reasons why I’d cry, one reason being that I miss my grandfather, another feeling because I acknowledge what this means for me and for my family, and even a third reason, trying to understand suffering and the nature of death, and what these things mean for me. I’m staying in the room where my grandfather stayed, out of all places, and I feel the loss significantly. It’s quite a loss, and I can’t explain it, but … I feel the absence. I feel someone is gone, and even when I’m not aware of this consciously, I’m aware of it subconsciously, even unconsciously. And it is a painful feeling.

 
Because I’m an empath, I also experience the emotions of the people around me. My grandmother is devastated. My mother is trying to stay strong so she can be a support. My father is not really grieving, but it’s painful for me to see him because it’s family. My Uncle hasn’t been in the best shape, either, and I understand why.

 
I’ve had good experiences with my mother since I’ve been here. We’ve connected on this loss, which, as I’ve been saying, I feel deeply.

 
I’m grappling with death, and I can’t deny it. My grandfather was a loved one, and I never, ever wanted to see him suffer. I in fact, especially the last few years, as I got to know him more, wanted to see him live a very happy life, which seemed out of his reach, because he suffered so much with physical diseases. I remember when I’d called him, and talk about philosophy, to try to get his mind off of the pain. I’d talk philosophy, I’d talk Descartes, Sartre, Spinoza, to try and get him to think about something else. I always felt this didn’t really work, however, and this made me infinitely sad.

 
My grandfather called for me before he died. I was very sad because I didn’t make it in time to see him before he passed. This may have been a good thing. The photos I saw of him on his dying bed were heartbreaking, and I’m not sure I could have handled it. But I still wish I could have seen him one more time. And especially because he called for me, I wish I could have made it. But it just didn’t work out. But it means a lot to me that he called my name, and this is because it means I made even a small impact in his life for the better. My grandfather taught me that there are many gray areas in life, and while I didn’t agree with everything my grandfather did, he was loved by many, and he was a good person in many respects.

 
In all actuality, I don’t really understand the nature of death, and suffering. These things remain inexplicable, and this is because I don’t even understand the nature of my own suffering. I don’t know why I feel pain, I don’t know why I feel the intense feelings that I do, I don’t know why I experience mental illness. This is one lesson I’ve tried to pass on to my family, is the idea, of how powerful and strong the mind is, how important thought is, even if we take it for granted.

 
Everything that happens to us, we like to think it happens for a reason. But seemingly, sometimes, it doesn’t.

 

Sometimes, there is just suffering. Sometimes, there is just sadness. We can’t explain it all with the intellect.

 

Experiencing this death makes me more cognizant of the songs that some of my favorite rock bands sing about: songs about the death of a loved one, a special one.

 
I have to be honest, I didn’t have the kind of relationship with my grandfather that I wish I did. We didn’t always connect on things. But he’d tell me, in so many ways, that meant the world to me, that he was proud of me. He was proud of what I was doing with my life, he was proud of the fact that I was a writer, and that I was able to do what he couldn’t. I wrote books, and I wrote intelligent books, and that meant the world to him. I’ll never forget this. It’s because of the support of my family that I write my books. Because I know they care, and if they care, maybe others, such as readers, will care.

 
Truth be told, I don’t know what happens when we die, as no one does. It’s hard for me to imagine blackness, darkness. The appeal to the Christian Heaven is that we’re going to be reunited with our loved ones. I don’t necessarily believe that, though my agnosticism makes me at least entertain the idea. I’m more likely to believe, though, that my grandfather is at least no longer suffering. If he only sees darkness, that’s fine, because he will at least rest in peace. And I think that he will be happy where’s he’s at. He’s no longer suffering.

 
I guess this is how I deal with the pain of loss. I accept that my grandfather is out of this painful world. Truth be told, I think he provided a unique perspective on life, and I will never forget when he told me that every argument has a solution. I interpreted this as an argument with other people, as well as a formal, logical argument. And truth be told, I cherish the uniqueness of my family, even if there is a lot of pain. I cherish the fact that to me, we only have this one life, and we need to engage so deeply with this life. As my friend Tracy has been saying, life is so short and so precious, and I want to see myself appreciate that: really engage with life, don’t seek to understand it all, just feel it.

 
Because, we’re okay. In the end, we no longer suffer.