Monthly Archives: November 2015

SOME ARE WHITE LIGHT

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It is so hard to describe what the scent of flesh being burned away by a cautery laser is like. I remember walking into a supposedly sterile room, aloof, and wondering what was burning, what was dying. I remember what it looked like—the crackling and popping of the laser and the darkening and reddening of the flesh, the pattern emerging underneath tiny clouds of incinerated dermis—but the scent, my god, the scent.

I knew I could never go back to unknowing.

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I hit the down arrow button on my keyboard so much that it will no longer stay in place and the little rubber nubbin underneath is a flat and sad thing.

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I never write about The Now, but the last few months have been something. I like to put distance between a happening and an uncoiling of my thoughts, but some things burn. I am burning.

The fact that I have a book in the world is kind of insane to me. The fact that anyone in the world can plunk down money for it is also kind of insane to me. The fact that it got reviewed by The Chicago Tribune, Gawker, and other places is more than insane to me. The fact that the basement of WORD was overflowing with people the night of the release party was like being another person on another planet. The fact that I was able to go out to California and read from it and see people I love and shake hands with people I do not know and people I now know is some kind of thing, alright. The fact that I have had strangers—people I have never seen in my life—approach me and speak to me about the book is incredible and awkward and everything I never knew could be real.

I am so very thankful.

I also want more.

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The first time I ever witnessed someone hanging from hooks I was in a terrible bar in Phoenix and the person hanging was having a hard time and TOOL’s “Sober” was blaring from the bar’s sound system and I could feel so much anticipation in the room and so much disappointment wafting from the sweat of the person attempting to hang and the people trying to get that person into the air. While nursing a whiskey and witnessing, I felt a thing inside of me shift around—a knowing, seeing thing—and I felt some kind of garbled connection to the action, as if I was looking into a broken mirror and everything was warped, bloodied, remembered.

When the person lifted, the room lifted. Not up for long, but there was a beauty in it, a power exchange had occurred and a wall had been destroyed. I felt relief for the person airborne, a relief for their friends, something resembling a kind of relief for myself. Anything can be done if the mind is right and ready.

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I want to write more books but I also know that I am going to have to take my time. The way I am wired to write isn’t quick. The way I mine for blood is determined to get to the darkest and most brackish emotion. The world wants everything at a pace that is inhumane, unattainable. It would be ridiculous of me to try to keep up.

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The first time I cut myself, it was an accident. I was dicking around with little Star Wars figures—trying to carve bullet and sword holes into them with a tiny pocket knife—and the knife slipped and went right into the meat of my palm. I didn’t make a sound. Instinct told me to put the wound to my mouth and my blood tasted warm, rusty, salted. I removed my wound from my mouth and inspected it, the flesh opening deep enough to see into the layers, to see the blood rising into the wound, to feel some kind of excitement or elation that I had not felt before. I stayed there on the ground, opening and closing the wound with my fingers from my other hand, fascinated by my body and what lied beneath my surface. I didn’t have the words or intellectual capacity to understand what was happening to me, but I knew I wanted to know more about this thing, this inside of me, this shell.

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Sometimes I misconstrue my need for boundaries with a hardening of my heart. This is something I am still trying to balance.

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I didn’t realize it in my early teens when I was doing it, but I used to strike brand myself in my room when insomnia and adolescent sadness would swallow me up. I would take a guitar string and heat it up with a lighter and then take the hot metal and lay it on my skin to feel the sharp static bolt into me. I would do this over and over again in places where nobody would ever see—the tops of my feet, my thighs, my inner biceps—until the skin would harden and keloid. Then I would wait and scrub the wounds free with the pumice stone used to clean the tile of the swimming pool. It would take time and effort and a stomach I didn’t know I had, but it would get back to normal flesh again.

I also used to heat up thumb tacks and take them on a guided tour of parts of my body. I remember pushing one through a nipple to see how much it would hurt and the feelings that shot through my body have never been replicated, even all these years later.

Never did it smell like that cautery laser, though.

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The longest I have ever gone without food is a few days. I started to hallucinate and knew that if I didn’t get something inside of this body it was going to start to shut down. I know it’s unhealthy, but there are times I wish I could stop eating, stop producing new cells, stop recycling my blood. Sometimes I just want to see what would happen, where I would go, who I would become invisible to.

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I take my time because I have no patience and I want things to be right.

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