A Raymond Chandler Evening

Today the weather shifted and instead of it being a sweltering August day, it seemed a more like autumn. The wind blew in from the north, bringing with it rain and then hail. Winter is coming, only now I don’t fear the severity of the change in seasons as I once did. I see the beauty in how things change and look forward to what every season will bring. This beautiful thing we get to experience called life. It’s no wonder I have this feeling in spite of my recent stresses, court hearings, and all that go with it. When bad things happen, even if they didn’t happen for a reason, it is up to us to find a reason. Some pearl of wisdom or truth that carries us to the next day.

I woke up this morning at around 8:00am after a few hours of sleep. My mom was selling soap in the park for North Park Days at her stand and I told her I would help her set up. I hadn’t slept much, just a few hours. I received some bad news last night from an old buddy about a mutual friend of ours who had taken their own life.

It was hard to comprehend at first because this person had just posted comments on my Facebook less than a week ago. We even had a decent conversation or two on messenger. They seemed to be doing well! A part of me somehow thought that I could message them and maybe they weren’t so far gone as to reply. It was absurd. Like an impulse to call the number of someone who has been gone for many years and not only will they pick up the phone, but they would be exactly as you remembered them. Because it wouldn’t be calling them today, but calling them twenty years ago.

I knew this friend was gone and it didn’t surprise me how or why. The image of them just sliding away out of reach and into the dark. It was real. For years I watched them struggle with clinical depression. I felt relief for them that they were no longer in pain. What hurt was seeing how a person ends their life in this way they tear a hole in their world and everyone who cared about them are pulled down into it with them. The living recover, to a point, but they have to deal with the aftermath. They are left wondering what if they had just made a little bit more effort, how would things be different?

We really weren’t mad at them. We had seen the struggles they went through and how the meds didn’t work or worked too much, reducing a jovial, gregarious person into a wooden person with slurred speech who fought just to walk across a room. They aren’t in pain anymore, which is the silver lining I have to take from that. My buddy and I caught up for about an hour. We talked about the old days and the people we knew. He said good night. Then for two hours, I just lie in bed thinking.

After helping my mom set up, I was tasked with making her lunch, so I made a quiche. It might be the best quiche I’ve made yet. It felt good to create and even better to cook for someone else. It has been a while. I’ve lost a lot of weight during the past month. When it’s just me at home, I tend to scrounge. I couldn’t put a number on it, but I’m down to the last notch on my belt. The other day, I was able to fit into my kilt, something I haven’t been able to do in years. Funny that dad bods are a trend and I seem to be burning mine off. Maybe I am a contrarian.

I did dishes. Scrolled tiktok as the quiche cooked. Sent videos back and forth to a dear friend whose life has also become complicated. It was nice to share with them while we both had a moment to catch our breath. Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes it’s hard to be involved in someone’s life when you are being pulled in a hundred directions. Sometimes it just feels like it’s all gone crazy. The world we live in is upside down and we are all just so rattled by everything these days. I miss the hell out of them, but that does neither of us any good. So I’m trying my damnedest to be supportive without smothering. Sometimes I achieve this goal.

I was writing for a bit until I heard the wind outside picking up. The sound of rain falling on the street and the roof through the screen door. It was such a wonderful sound. Until I remembered my mom was still at the park in her tent selling soap. I hopped in the car and by the time I rounded the corner to the park, I got the solitary text from my mom.

“Help”

By the time I got there it was beginning to hail. We broke down the shop and the tent and had everything ported to our vehicles just in time for the rain to stop and the air to be calm. By then the fair was done, hailed out. Afterwards, I came home and took a nap, catching up on a little bit of the sleep I had lost the night before. With a 4:00 invite to dinner with my folks, I forced myself out of bed at 4:15pm and headed to their house with Penny so she could play in the yard. We ate and visited and sat outside. The wind whipped up and it got cold. The sky was the color of gunmetal.

Back at home, I passed the hours alone. Even Penny went to take a nap. I sat and wrote a letter because an overcast day is the perfect time to do that. As I have written before, letters are a forgotten art. In spite of my bad handwriting I persisted. Then more tiktoks and texting.

Another friend called at ten and we chatted for an hour, shooting the shit, making jokes, and talking about the same things we always talk about when he calls. Sometimes it’s good to just be that voice at the other end of the line for someone, even when it’s the same things you’ve talked about a hundred times.

By the time we were off the phone, I could see that the window of opportunity for continuing other conversations that had begun had been missed with someone with a sweet smile and a contagious laugh. It was late. I was tired. So, I tried to go to sleep. The funny thing is that during the day, I will often hit a wall and I can’t help but close my eyes and sleep. But in the night, I am tired but very much awake. It didn’t help that tonight Penny needed to sleep on my legs and she cooked me right out of bed. So, I patted her on the head and came back to my office, sitting down to write while enjoying an adult beverage.

Two years ago I wrote this:

Here’s your inspiration for a Friday where the sky is grey and you still want to be in bed. It’s the people you let into your life and value you who make every day worth living. It’s the way you treat others and lift them up that counts. It’s the memories you hold onto that make you smile, and letting go of the ones that make you cry that bring you joy.

Clinton Danger Harris

Tomorrow holds many things for me to do. The rollercoaster of court begins again, attempting to balance all I have to do there with writing and working to build my business and make money. To chase a dream no matter how small it might seem right now. To believe that something like this is for me and not just other people.

These blogs I share are not a definitive truth or some life lesson. They are just my thoughts. Not all of them are winners, and almost all of them reflect a moment I am passing through at that precise point in my life. Which are as maleable sometimes as the sands on the beach.

The quote that I pulled tonight from 2019 was written at a high point in my life, but it still feels right. Since then, I’ve lost and gained people. And even some people have always been there, supportive, caring, and pulling for me through the good and the bad. Even when I wasn’t looking right at them. I am blessed. Though sometimes I am very anxious at what the future holds, I don’t fear the future. The challenges I face somehow all have come together to work perfectly in some way, even if they don’t feel right at the time.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts on a Raymond Chandler evening. So, I give you this. Be well and be kind to each other. Don’t waste a single moment.

Stress and the inconvenience of being a writer

In the last few days, things have become increasingly stressful. Sometimes life throws a curve ball–or fifteen–at you. As a long-time overthinker I have put that character trait to work by allowing myself to get the overthinking down as writing. The big problem with that, however, is writing is no longer optional. In order to wrap my brain around things, I have to put these thoughts down onto the page.

There are times when talking to someone else about things would be wonderful. This is what you get out of therapy, when someone else can see things through a different lens and offer their thoughts that aren’t boxed in by your own perceptions. Sometimes talking to friends helps, but friends don’t (and shouldn’t) want to spend all the time an overthinker needs to spend on a problem. They have their own problems, or after a while they just become exhausted by what is going on in your life. Sometimes I think of how great it would be to have a cooler older brother or sister to chat with. Someone who has their life together and can just floor you with a simple solution that works to fix everything.

But life isn’t like it is in the movies. You don’t go through two acts and have Robin Williams show up and say “It’s not your fault, chief,” and everything is suddenly better. This is another reason to get the words down. You can be your own Robin Williams. And you don’t have to put the heavy burden of being your Robin Williams onto those you care about.

Writing things down can help you make things linear which are difficult to make sense of, given a general mosaic of chaos. You can go through everything one step at a time and fight your battles in succession, rather than facing an entire angry mob of emotions. You can even come back to them after the storms have passed and remind yourself that even though it felt like the world was coming apart at the seams, you survived and those challenges which seemed so insurmountable then would not be so hard now.

├ůs for the good things, I enjoy writing about those too. Putting those thoughts and feelings down on paper allow you to step back in time and always have that memory with you. The scents, the way the light was falling on a hillside, the wind, the rain, the roar of a crowd, or the hum of tires on the road. Whatever you decide to put in that stew of memories will bring about all sorts of levels of flavor later on in ways you never imagined.

Anyway, even writing these thoughts down has helped and now maybe they will let me do something else with my talents, which until now I have been too rattled to focus on for very long. It’s always something, so they say. Right now I have a lot of challenges ahead of me and it’s hard to see what lies over the next hill or turn of the road. All I can do now is to continue driving ahead, moving forward.

Let’s see how this all works out.

Things that are bullsh*t

In my 45 years on this planet, I have learned that a large number of things I was told while I was growing up are simply not true. So, I decided to make a list.

Blood is thicker than water

Not true at all. Family are people you happened to be around more than other people. Probably because some of them just happened to be at the table when the food was getting passed around. A major clue people should have figured out on this is that everyone knows someone who is a complete asshole. There is a distinct certainty that this person is someone’s son, daughter, cousin, aunt, parent, etc. There’s a good chance they are an even bigger asshole to the people that are forced to pass them the gravy at dinner.

You can’t choose who you love

Actually, you can, and really you should. Truth be told, you do. You make a conscious decision every time you interact with that person whether or not to give them affection. If you aren’t, then you should consider contacting a witch or someone who can remove the spell that has been cast over you. Because if they are screwing someone else, disrespecting you, hurting you, or even flat out ignoring you, you are the one choosing to “love” them. The same applies to all relationships. Kids, parents, spouses, friends, or just anyone. Signs that you aren’t making this choice include small bottles containing nails, hair, urine, or other personal items that you randomly find under your bed or under your porch. Seek professional help.

It didn’t use to be like this

No, it wasn’t. Sometimes it was worse. Though the world is inundated with “woke” people, Karens demanding to see the manager, rabid conservatives, and social injustice at every turn, I have never seen someone lynched, I haven’t watched someone beat a mule to death in the street, the local warlord hasn’t rounded up the town virgins for prima nocte. There aren’t people impaled along the roadside and left to the carrion birds. And the story of the “Little Matchgirl” just sounds like a hyperbolic if not morbid Christmastime story, rather than current events. You aren’t suffering the same ways that people in the past have done. You are usually just inconvenienced.

Karma is going to bite them in the ass

No it won’t. That’s just you hoping bad people will get their just desserts. They won’t. Even if they did, they won’t see it that way. Truly awful people go around in this world reaping the benefits of other people’s misery. The villain is the hero of their own story. The only people “karma” affects are good people who thing they are being punished for something, when it really has nothing to do with anything other than shit luck. They work for a long time to pay pennance. The reality of it is that karma never works because the people deserving the shit end of the stick has no more concept of wrong doings that deserve cosmic punishment than a yellowjacket that stings you for wearing red.

You can only be loved as much as you love yourself

Not true. Sometimes people love us in spite of this. What we can all hope for is we realize we need to catch up before we miss out. Loving ourselves is a good way to make sure that we aren’t making those who love us miserable. And it’s a good way to not be an attention thirsty trainwreck incapable of reciprocating that love.