The Beautiful and Damned (23 of 90)

I’ve spent the better part of Saturday domesticating: cleaned the house, cooked two desserts for this evening’s dinner, finished my laundry and re-arranged the artwork and living spaces.

With the exception of the master bathroom, which I’m actually saving until tomorrow morning, there isn’t a spot of dust or dirty anywhere in my place. It feels…nice. Live-able. Comforting. I’ve even gone so far as to open all the curtains, a rarity for me.

I wake up each day planning on cleaning and letting in sunlight and domesticating, but my mind usually finds some way to turn me towards one of my desks by way of the coffee maker. I struggle throughout the day, writing and shuffling papers just enough to get me through but never enough to get me ahead.

As I settle into my bed, I promise myself – like Jurgis in The Jungle – that I will work harder tomorrow. I will get to the gym, I will get to that reading for my work, I will finish a portion of a book chapter.

I live in a state of “will” that never quite comes.


My life is spread out in bits and pieces across the globe, which I’m beginning to believe is going to be a source of happiness and frustration for the rest of my life.

I have residences in two states and a third where I spend a good deal of time (when my parents are around). A quick check of the Year of Friends map shows visits to 7 different states and 2 other countries within the next 7 months. Not to mention quick stops in Austin and St. Louis for conferences.

I’m the least aggregated person I know. I have not left a footprint finable on Terra Firma anyway I’ve gone. This is some function of my alcoholism. I stayed just long enough to finish my work, but always just before my welcome was about to be worn. I became very good at sensing the inevitable end.

I never stayed for that, though, because I couldn’t justify my drinking if I started losing jobs. Somehow fleeing them was okay.


I am not unhappy with my life being spread across the planet. There is a beauty I get to witness because I have time to go and see and hear stories that many others don’t. I have a perspective shaped by travel and adventure, by education and analysis, by writing and recording.

There are days I simply marvel at the artifacts I have collected throughout the years, the little bits and pieces that I have brought back with me. Those things I carry are temporary, of course. Mine until there is no more me anymore. They will blink into the nothingness when my hard drive fails and I slide into the oblivion.

For now, they are comforting. They remind me that I was – and am – and will continue to be for awhile longer. They keep me rooted in space-time, reminding me that we are always moving forward even when the “will” never comes.

They float around in my head, many times while I slide out of place in the present that I am in, bouncing off the walls of my brain.


I am not a great thinker of things.

I think quickly. I can assemble data quickly, but I do not sit around and wonder about things. I don’t trust the human mind that much. We weren’t designed to spend long periods of time pondering. We were meant to move through the world. To exist. To stumble our way through the jungles.

This serves me well in my life, but I feel ever more disconnected from the people around me because of the tethers. The bits and pieces of their lives that are rooted squarely in Terra Firma. The components of their lives that keep them close to home, that cause them to be great thinkers of things.

In some cases, they have so very much more to lose than I can even imagine. Or they think they do. I’m not sure which is right, but I am sure that figuring that out is one of those “things” that I don’t think about because the end result is the same either way.

In other cases, they have simply been paralyzed by the fear of never moving. The here has become The Here, which is always better and safer and calmer than The There.

It’s ironic that I feel more comfortable in the small towns of America, where tethers pull tight, and dislike the large cities of America, where they dangle.


I am slowly realizing the difference between the tethered and the un-. Between the fiction and the non-.

This year is about partitioning my hard drive, making room for another operating system. One that works just a little bit more efficiently and wholly. One that defragments my bits and pieces, not to recompile them into one location, but to make them run more smoothly.

That means keeping the tethered in their proper places. Not expecting those bonds to break. And to find other programs who are leaving markers across the globe.

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This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
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