Tuesday, November 01, 2011

To be Irish is to know that, in the end, the world will break your heart.

The day that you learn that, even with everything that's happened over the past half a decade, you were but a footnote in someone else's drama - is awful.

Shocking, eye-opening, and awful.

You realize that everything you suffered through for the past five years was all for nought- but worse, it was ALWAYS for nought.

There was never any chance that there would be any other outcome, even with all of her promises, and you were too fucking stupid to realize that all you were was a brief interlude, a small intermission in a longer story, for a girl who went slummin' with a roughneck for a couple of months before returning to the life that she was always going to lead anyway.

I was too fucking stupid. Too fucking naive. And that will never happen again.

This will never happen to me again.

I have tried to not this world harden my heart, but there was been no return on these futile attempts.

This will never happen to me again.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I was half drunk. Not fully drunk, but half drunk.

It was all around me, all the same, all boring goddamned people doing boring things and leading boring lives and talking about boring bullshit.

For a moment I felt like I was 18 again as that old angst overrode all the other emotions I'm inundated with from moment to moment.

See, the older I get, the better I get at what I do. The better I get at what I do, the more I realize that the barriers are falling away from how high I can go in this journalism business, and I had just read this article earlier that day:


This passage, in particular struck me.

"My life was the opposite of cozy domesticity. I slept with a pre-packed bag with clothes, and had a wardrobe consisting of “winter war” (Chechnya, Balkans, Afghanistan, northern Iraq) parkas and boots and “summer war” (Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Guinea, etc.) baggy shirts and trousers. I had a collection of Middle East and “strict Islam” head scarves, abayas and kurtas. When I went on the rare holiday with friends who had children, I listened like an alien as they talked about schools and real estate."

And I looked around that bar, that same old fucking bar that I've been going to for seven fucking years, and it was all the same people, just with different names, but all the same boring fucking people talking about their kids and their houses and their jobs and all kinds of other things that I just can't make myself care about and it struck me that I will be leaving, as soon as possible.

I had promised myself when I was little that I would never be one of the men who hated his job and only lived for the weekend, but my problem has become the opposite. I have become addicted to and totally consumed by journalism, and I am happy only when I'm boxing or when I'm working.

The weekends are spent in drunken boredom as I catapult from bar to bar, waiting and hiding my boredom until Monday.

I realized it when I was sent on assignment to Virginia recently - it was, and still is, the first time that I've been actually "sent on assignment" and it was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had, being sent out into the Unknown having to keep a promise of delivering a hundred inches and a shitload of pictures... it was glorious.

I just began reading in ernest Robert Fisk's "The Great War for Civilisation" as well, and the timing of my reading it is further proof that God has a sense of humor with me.

The book is a chronicle of sorts of Fisk's years as a Middle East war correspondant for a London newspaper, times that he spent interviewing Osama Bin Laden and traveling with Russian soldiers across the frozen Afghani landscape during their invasion of that country in the 1980s. The writing is fantastic, the stories, nearly unbelieveable. And those, dear friends, are the stories that I want.

Sometimes it seems like everything over the past few years has been building up to that. Learning to box, learning to shoot, learning outdoor skills and how to sleep outside in the sweltering heat of the Virginia plains or the frigid Catskill Mountains night.... it's as if I unwittingly have been preparing to go to these war zones that I have read about so eagerly.

And looking around that bar, realizing that at 27 I have no girlfriend, no house, no kids, no desire to have kids, and nothing holding me back from pursuit of such dreams.... it will not be long before I am gone.

And I do sometimes believe that I will not come back.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

We're driving back from the wedding, and my hands hurt and I've got a mark over my eye. He found his shirt out in the street in front of the hotel. You can do the math.

"Fuck you," I say.

"What? I make things interesting."

"No. You guys suck. Here I am trying to be decent guy, trying to grow up, and you every time I hand out with you fucks I end back where I started. You're like crabs, that's what you are. I'm trying to climb the fuck out of the bucket, and you motherfuckers are pulling me right back in. I hate you."

"I barely remember anything... I just remember getting hit, ending up on the ground, and realizing I got hit," he says.

"Yea and another thing you fat fuck, I don't want to hear your short jokes anymore, because that's the second time that I've saved your ass from getting killed."

"Eh... whatever. You're the one who stole the guy's car keys."

"Well yea. I mean, fuck him. But still..."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Never coming home

Lately, I've been feeling like I should just leave New Jersey, and do it for good. Maybe it's a pre-mid-life crisis of sorts, and although I know that most people feel this way at one point in their lives or another, I can't help it.

Some of those old ghosts (women, of course) have stepped back into my life, and set me back about five years in both where I feel my life's at and how I've been dealing with it- namely, drinking too much and doing the stupid things associated with that, like putting myself at risk in a few ways.

A few months ago, I cam to the conclusion that for a long time I've been something of a binge drinker, a thinly-veiled, barely controlled functioning alcoholic one step from the edge. I've seen what the cruel end is for that type of person, and it comes in the form of lonely nights at local dives, living an agonizingly unfulfilled life. It isn't where I want to be.

Like so many other cluster fucks over the years, boxing (along with that "career" thing) is saving my ass. I take this sport so seriously that even though I"m not competing, I spend the weekends sober lately because I know I'm going to the gym in the morning, and going hungover isn't an option at this severely less-manly stage in my life.

But it's more than that; it's the beauty that comes with knowing that I can do things that a lot of men can't dream of, and it's the solemn (ok, loud and arrogant) pride that I take in knowing that at 26, I'm in better shape than I was at 20. So I put myself through the murderous workouts and come out a better man and a stronger fighter at the end.

But still, even though I'm getting professional instruction for peanuts, and I won another award for my writing, I still get that nagging feeling, that, "What the fuck am I sitting here for?"

I've got a strong attraction to the West Coast, and I have for some time, mostly since a woman I once loved ran out there, but she's not there any more and that's part of the reason I'd like to go there myself.

In this damned state, there's so many ghosts around here for me. They're all those women I used to know, man, I can't get away, and I've been all over this damned state and from the Delaware River to the Garden State Parkway to the streets of New York City, all these places remind me of someone.

It's never the same person, but it's always something sad, some moment in some relationship that I wish I still had, some girl that I wish I still loved.

And then I see California like it's some gleaming city, some shiny haven from all my troubles where the winter never comes and your woman doesn't leave you. I know better than to think that any of that is true... but maybe it's that idealized version I need most right now.

And in the end, I might not end up in the Golden State... after all, the last thing I need is more fake ass platinum blondes to give me headaches. But it'll be somewhere warm- some lush island that lies rises out of an oil spill of teal water, or some small house overlooking some bay. The names aren't important. They all sound the same anyway.

But it'll be somwhere where I can take a charter boat out any time I want and fish for all the sea monsters that Hemingway wrote about, and where I can walk down the street and into a throbbing warehouse and hear the rythmic thuds of the speed bags and that lovely "Pop-pop-bang!" that accompanies a nice combination.

And- most importantly- no woman will ever bother me, and nary a memory will form in my head that doesn't look exactly like what I want it to.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Town

It was a hard movie for me to watch. There were a lot of things that struck a very personal tone and I'm not sure why.

Maybe it was the green Carhartt jacket that Affleck wears, or his proclivity towards doing remarkably stupid things even when it seems he could fix everything by simply walking away.

Maybe it was the ghosts that haunted him, the family trials, the blood soaked memories of times gone by and people he had to "look for."

There was a lot more that could have been done with the movie, I guess- more character development all over and what not. But the relationship that Affleck has with his past, with his father, with the woman....there was so much there that actually brought me back into my own life for a second....

An old friend of mine and I were driving home from last week's fights in Newark, a little bit tuned up and a bit sentimental, and I told him what I'd been thinking for the last few years.

"Man... I got this feeling, like for the past 10 or 15 years, we all been straddlin' this line, you know? And on one half, it's like, we're good, solid, hardworking guys, we're tough guys, and we're doin' good, and then on the side, we're drunk, extraordinarily dangerous lowlives," I said.

I didn't know what to expect. Some folks might take offense to this kind of statement.

But he knows. All of us have been in the same places, even if it wasn't all of us together, between the drinking and the drugs and the violence and all the stupid shit that we've all done, all the stupid shit we never got caught for.

And he agreed.

"We go back and forth between it some times... you cross the line, dabble and screw around, and then try to get back across it," he said. "But you gotta know when to get back across it."

A lot of the people that we both knew never knew when to get back across it, and got trapped on that side, like in the end of "Mirrors"- forever on the outside looking in, forever in the slum, forever hooked on one drug or another.

And the struggle, well they kept that up. They kept grindin. And they never got anywhere.

Us... we're somewhere. I'm a little further down the path than my friend, but he's on his way. We're trying to stay on the right side of that line.

Later on that night, he got pulled over on the way home from my house. We'd gone to a local bar after the fights, and I drove, so he was probably drunker. He got off with just a ticket.

And that mirror, it cracked, just a little bit more.