The Suck: Choice is Yours

Melancholy days. I still have them; usually they happen when life doesn’t live up to my expectations. 

There is, of course, the adage that, happiness is reality minus expectations. It follows then, that we are, for the most part, responsible for our own happiness or sadness; however, I find value in all emotional states: the sour is a valuable part of life. 

Some days pain is going to visit you, and you will look in the mirror and know that you are better than this. Now, whatever this is, it’s what your life happens to be at the present moment.

Does that mean there is no changing it? No. You can change it, but you’re going to need to be honest with yourself about what needs to be changed and what is going to be required of you. 

What do you want? Remind yourself. Never forget; even if those expectations cast a thunderstorm above life as it stands today. You musn’t scale down your expectations because they aren’t met. That’s resignation. 

I think the path to mediocrity is an easy one: it’s the path most are on. They resign themselves to life as it is. I, on the other hand, would rather have days like this, knowing that they are reminders of what I want, what I deserve, and what I am capable of creating. 

As John Mayer sings on The Heart of Life, “Fear is a friend who’s misunderstood”. So too is sadness, melancholy, and pain. These things are the feedback system within us, designed to let us know that shit sucks. 

Because sometimes – contrary to what your Facebook feed might lead you to believe – life can suck – and that’s okay, not just normal, but healthy. For without days like this, how are we ever to grow, to evolve. We need days like this. In fact, I would argue that without days like this, we aren’t living full and honest lives. 

Sure, I have a lot to be grateful for. I am neither disputing nor forgetting that. Fact is, anyone who has been through what I have gone through does not forget to count their blessings. I am a fortunate fellow. I’ve got youth, health, passion, intellect, and a wellspring of potential, which I am fully aware of. It’s just X, Y, and Z – the flies in the ointment – that really upset me. 

So I have two choices: I can let the suck cripple me, essentially relegating me to my bed as the suck tends to do – or, I can make a plan to change the suck.

Life is a game of potentials but it is won by wills. You cannot allow the suck to break your will or to weaken your resolve. It has to fuel it, it has to embolden your cause, serving to act as nature’s reminder that life can be more than this. So put pen to paper as I am today. Make a plan to change X, Y, and Z. It’s either that or you accept it. The choice is all yours but the suck is here regardless. It’s what you do with it, what meaning you allow it, and how it changes you. So use it. Let it push you forward. Let it spur you to change what you can, which is either the cause of the suck, your beliefs about the suck, or how the suck makes you feel. Chances are, however, that the latter element is futile: it sucks. There is no changing that. That’s what the suck is. But it’s not all it is. The suck presents an invaluable opportunity to change your circumstances, to refuse to accept what is, and to grow and evolve. 

As Henry Ford said, “Most people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. 

That’s kind of what the suck is like. But, if we can look past it and we can see things honestly for what they are, we might just be looking at the chance we have been waiting for, which we ought to be grateful fortune has bestowed upon us. 

So no, I won’t embrace the suck – but I will welcome it as an opportunity, seeing pain as a messenger, and I will turn adversity to my advantage. This is how the hero plays the game. As I always say, you are either the hero of your story or the victim. Choice is yours. 

Thoughts on The Journey: Beginning Again

I cannot tell you how long a journey it has been; I thought I was on the right path in love and life, time and again, only to watch each little plan, hope, and dream die – positively disintegrating me into the billion little bits that lie here tonight, beginning again. 

I heard something once about honoring your story, about how, when you do that, it elevates you to the level of authentic and honors everyone else’s story in the process. I suppose that’s what I am doing tonight. Because I haven’t give up. 

It was Steve Jobs who said, you can only connect the dots looking backwards

I have done my best to do so; picking up the pearl of great price from every abyss and stringing each onto the thread of my own destiny in an attempt to make sense of an otherwise senseless world – for the world devoid of my story is a world without meaning. 

When I was seventeen, I got the letters N.G.U tattooed on my right forearm. They stand for Never Give Up. Today, at thirty-one, never giving up means not giving up my story, not forgetting; remembering who I am, what I want, and why I am here. 

I am Lawrence Black, and I desire to own my time, to have abundance and security, and to become the person I already am: the writer, the lover – the boy who only wanted to feel okay, but now I want more. Because why limit myself to being a cog in someone else’s machine. Why kill myself with 15 hour and 20 hour days to please people who would just as soon replace me. 

So I’m taking a bet again, shifting my plans professionally, and casting my pearls into the sea – allowing them to fall where they may. This, of course, means letting people down; for there are two people you must let down: yourself or others; try to please others and you will invariably let yourself down – but, swallow the bitter pill of letting the right people down, as the dictates of your soul command, and you earn the right to look in the mirror and say: I live for me; I am the hero of my story, the victim of none but me. My excuses my own, mine to take responsibility for. 

For me. For Sarah. And for the future we are building. Because, as I once heard, you can also fail at what you don’t want. So, I’ll deploy my resources accordingly – adjusting my plans as I always have – betting on what I think best. Sure, I’ve lost, made mistakes, ended up flat on my ass, but I am not there now. I am here; my course to date having taken me this far. What’s next, well, I am looking forward to seeing. 

Welcome to The Woods

Four weeks and two days ago, I left the city that never loved me; for I had to leave: I had to fall deeper, further into love – and closer to a pattern of life befitting a serious writer. 

Sarah, life partner and best friend she is, naturally loved the idea of living in the woods for a year with me. It was, after all, our idea. 

But it wasn’t our first idea; we were planning to move to LA – only fate would have it otherwise, and our plans would change just a week before we were slated to take up residence in a cheap AirBNB in LA for two weeks (Giving us enough time to find a permanent residence).

It was a solid plan, but it just didn’t feel right. 

So, sitting in bed together, as we are now, Sarah doing her thing, me mine, we began to discuss the idea of somewhere not LA. 

Price was a big factor. Frankly, we wanted a home. 

A day or two before, I had looked on Craigslist at homes in a handful of rural Midwest cities. The prices made me swoon; however – besides the fact I had already done the Midwest – I knew it wasn’t in the cards. Call it inner voice. As I said to Sarah last night, all my biggest mistakes have been the result of listening to other people. Today, I listen to me. Fuck you. 

So we zoomed out on google maps in bed that evening: looking first in South LA, then east toward Nevada, then north to the Oregon border, until finally – after the longest thirty minutes of our life – we landed on a small Califonia mountain town, and then something magical happened: we got excited. 

Why? I don’t know. It was just the right place. Something inside us felt calm. Just the way it feels to be here this evening, looking out our bedroom across the deck and onto the National Forest. 

We came here from a small apartment where we had barely managed to stay together through the newness of our relationship. We truthfully were barely sure of what we were doing. 

But we did it. 

We drove up on a Friday to see the place, returning directly to pack our entire apartment on the following Saturday, and then, four Sundays ago, we towed our car behind a uhaul up here, which was an adventure in itself. 

We blew a tire. We had to stop to load a double stainless fridge into the uhaul in 110 degree heat, and we had barely slept for two days. 

Our relationship was road tested on the trip up. Lord knows it had been battle tested in the city where we met. In that tiny apartment. Those fucked up people. That city. San-dago: you fucking overhyped transplant filled millennial shithole. 

Needless to say, we are happier here. Much. 

Sarah quit her job. I got my writing room. And we both get to call the first true house we have ever lived in together, home.  

It has been an incredible experience these four weeks, full of stories I will be sharing soon in the form of a collection of non-fiction episodes published here. 

This weekend we will be hosting the first of a series of guests scheduled to visit us, and we look forward to firing up the BBQ, looking up at the stars, and thinking back on the darkest nights. Nights when moving to the woods to write novels was only a dream. Nights when we had nothing but each other and a dream. 

And LA, it will still be there. Waiting for me to arrive. Waiting for my stories. Waiting on the day when we take up part time residence – our cabin here waiting for us. Because we live in the woods now. Because this is home. 

Cherries in The Bowl

There were cherries in the bowl,
Ripe and sweet beneath plump plum-colored skins

But now only pits and stems remain,
Strewn about like entrails no longer contained,
In fructose puddles, which will soon bring ants on parade –

But if I wash the bowl, how will I remember the cherries I ate
The fructose that sweetened, for a moment, this sour day
And hopefully helped my constipation, keeping the pink plasma in my stool at bay

Ah it’s probably just the stress, the love of a damn miserable girl,
And nothing more than a case for water and maybe Preperation H,
But it breaks my heart, why I ate cherries today.

Because in another life, we’ll drink cherry wine
And instead of me eating cherries and whining, feeling like I’m dying, saying:

It’s just the stress
It’s just the stress

I won’t have the love of a damn miserable girl.

Of Note: An Ode To The Practicing Poet

Just wrote a poem and deleted it
Next song.

Okay, now I Breathe
And so….

But the song is sad.

Only I listen, because I am in love,
And so I breathe.

And next;

Yes. I breathe

Only, I wish life didnt trivialize and parody itself,
Because I need this:

Lily Allen, Something’s Not Right –
Pan 2015,

Now Odezsa, Kusanagi

Feels as rich as umami

pause.

It. has. been a. tough. week.

Smoke, and – pause. . .

My nightstand is mine,
Replete with blue bandana, overflowing with books
I’d brag –
But you wouldnt know them anyway:
My tastes in books as alienating as my tastes in persons,
Or so the bourgeous prole in me said
But now I must put him to bed
So the poet in me may sleep,
That the man again may have a life of peace
For there are beasts – wolves too,
To whom we are sheep,
But we may rest now

For the beasts too need sleep.

And a famous persons name may now be added here to lend credibility,

Oh, but I think you not the credulity –

To believe me of such insecurity,

As if my poem werent good enough for me
That I wouldnt publish it. 

Were I undedicated, I wouldnt be so hated.
Chasing wildest dreams like he’s gonna make it
Heaven knows how long my talent felt wasted.

But I want to feel talent –
To have tasted it –
Written, rewritten, and written it again

Oh give me my sweet sin again,
That I wont waste it:

Deleting poems
Erasing omens and odes

Worse crimes fitting a criminal,
I say

Because today,
You wrote more than code 

And that is of note.

Non-Fiction 

If I had to choose between writing and sex, I’d choose pen over penis eight days a week. Why I’ve gone with such a seemingly daft metaphor, I know all too clearly; for my writing is growing into as compulsory an act as masturbating was for me at fifteen, only I’ve no Portnoy’s Complaint  – quite the contrary in fact; if I don’t write, I’ll be riddled with guilt, which in many ways I am, owing to the fact that my fiction remains less than fiction: it’s fairy dust. And until I dedicate myself to the the four manuscripts living rent free in my head, that’s all it will ever be. I don’t have to search long and hard to discover there exists no more tragic fact about me. 

I am, however, working to remedy this; only, I need be honest with myself: if I have one regret about my previous entry, it’s that I veiled my feelings in prose, which can be incredibly false. Not that I intended to do so, only I did nonetheless. And it was false because I wrote of courage and becoming oneself, and the undeniability of my identity as a writer – without talking about the pain. 

The pain being almost the central fact of my existence; precisely what’s got me up in bed, writing this word by word at three thirty am. My how incredibly angst ridden I am. 

At thirty one, I’ve managed to fortify myself with world class skills in a technical field I care naught for. I have actually failed in my field as a result of my lack of passion (That or fate). 

Wanting – needing – to write desperately, I have two options: take a high paying job, or make a go at the one thing I have been successful with in a related field. Of course there is always a third option. I’ll get to that.

As passionless as I am about the business of moneymaking, which every adult knows is all consuming, it’s my passion as a writer that haunts me. Then there are the excuses: If I was single. If I had committed myself to writing fiction at a younger age. If I had financial independence. 

Same shit countless frauds like me probably say to themselves. And I feel a fraud. Absofuckknglutely. 

Three years ago I went through a terrible breakup and simultaneously nearly died of blood poisoning, which I had contracted on a business trip (Misery is strippers and steaks with insurance industry execs in Ohio). After that I smoked some DMT, took some LSD (God no not at the same time!), and awoke fully to myself being a writer. And I was in some ways for a time. I allowed myself the freedom to fall into dire financial straits, and I slept around like a nihilist pig; however, when I was sober I spent my time reading more novels than I had since I was fourteen (Having read non-fiction almost exclusively for years). I also amassed a personal library that can be said to belong only to a writer, owing both to its copious volume and eclectic contents (My tastes I will not comment on). 

During this period of freedom and bacchanalia, I also began to spend much more time alone and in nature – more than I had since a child. I filled a few journals cover to cover, and I got to know myself in ways I never had. This blog also served me well – as a kind of cloud drive to upload all of the new software my consciousness was running on. 

Of course, I wouldn’t be Lawrence Black if I didn’t find love again. Talk about a whirlwind [love]. It’s not unlike what I imagine heroin or some mind numbing opiate to be like: blindingly comforting and then you wake up months later wondering what the fuck happened, and suddenly you remember yourself and begin facing how much you lost touch with You in trying to please the muse. This I am most guilty of. 

I want it all. Fuck me. Unfortunately there are only twenty four goddamn hours in a day, and I certainly do not possess the bandwidth to write code and push pixels all day long, in addition to writing. As Stephen King writes in On Writing: life is not a support system for art – it’s the other way around. 

This I am figuring out how to arrange – no matter how much pluck and daring it requires. Lord knows – well, in this case, my girlfriend knows – that I am committed to my art above all. And by my art, I mean my inner peace. The shit that allows me to stay sane. 

So, what will Lawrence do next? 

I know this much: I will be honest. Not thinking about what some heartless or shallow ex who may reads this thinks of my life. I’m done with that ego mindfuck. If I am to be, I am to be honest about my life in my own writing. 

In ten days I may be living in a cabin in the woods, or I may be crashing on a floor or a couch. Fuck if I care either way. All I know is that I must write. Because not writing fiction is killing me. And I can’t write any more fiction here. 

– Oh yeah, that third option. Well, I may be doing menial technical work but I need my mental bandwidth for greater things, and I know a place with cheap cabins.

Reimagining 

Have the courage to stop the world and start over at two am,
While the night is still and your days may yet be seized;
Have the courage to use your dreams as metaphors for the things you truly want:
Reimagining your life as one does who has become brave enough to see heroes as peers rather than role models


David Foster Wallace, (Whom, like Kerouac, I cannot really read for fear of going insane) said something to Rolling Stone’s David Lipsky about how of course in the end, we end up becoming ourselves. The statement was about growing up and the futility of our parent’s worries about who we will become in light of the inevitability of who we ultimately are. 

I find it deeply calming to reflect on this – the idea that we end up becoming ourselves; it reminds me that I am becoming who I was meant to be – not just despite my mistakes, but because of them. 

Without this, this idea that I am becoming myself, then it’s all a waste (Funny how I once thought I couldn’t fail at anything); however, I trust life: it has taken me this far, given me this clear a picture; and finally, at thirty one, I’m beginning to feel that there is a pattern to my life, one in which I am destined for certain things and bound to suffer in vain pursuit of others. And it has been in my failures, in vain pursuits, that I have discovered the futility of following roads not meant for me. 

I suppose I feel there is simply no longer any escaping or denying who I am. Lord knows I tried. Heaven fuck I tried Bunny, Mousie. 

Thankfully it is not dreams of soul and passion that have perished but merely the ideas my ego had concocted to give myself some false importance at not doing the thing I was born to do. If I am being obtuse it’s simply my way of not wanting to outline what it’s like to spend ten thousand hours on a diversion. Not that the time invested will go unused, just that it’s no more than financial potential. But the goal of my life was never about just money. And perhaps that’s where I betrayed myself…. Trails off

Life is a great, grand adventure – in which I am the hero. And true, I’m not a very likable one. But no plausible hero is – at least none capable of inspiring me. Commonplace is the contentment that fills the days of the bourgeois; however, there shall be no longer the air of quiet desperation in my hours; I banish despair from my bones. Simply in writing, simply in reflecting –  in trusting life, and in being honest with myself. Simply in reimagining myself to be who I wish. 

Because you can also fail at what you don’t want.