Saturday, November 6, 2021

It's one more. This Goes to 11



If I ever once thought that anyone or anything could give me "the moon and the stars," it would have taken an army to convince me. But here we are, and the picture to the right is what I have today, eleven years of sobriety. It really feels like I've been given the moon and the stars because after I got past the early nightmare of "getting sober" my life has been boundless, with limitless possibilities

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

                                                                                                                                  --Carl Sagan 


       Well, Carl, I'm feeling you, as I did get help, and it did come from  within that lonely speck called Earth, because I couldn't get it done without other humans as well as elsewhere than that. 

       In the best-selling anthology, The Epiphanies Project, included essay of mine was published about when the stars aligned in order for me to seek help. I won't tell that story here, because this blog isn't about that,  but check it out when you get the chance! 

       As they say, no one rushes into their first AA meeting as if they are the center of a ticker-tape parade, and full of celebration. No one runs in euphorically and shouts out with excitement that they are there. Like everyone else who had done this, I was broken, and desperate, slithering in, wanting help but hoping not to be noticed. 

     Also, by accepting all this I had to realize that my life as I knew it was over, and I was to accept my 'punishment', which was what I was doing for the life I had been living. My punishment was having to go someplace in order to be helped. I would hang out with all of the other losers being jailed for what they did as alcoholics. Life was going to be bleak, and depressing hanging out with all of those defeated people. 

     After forcing myself to continue and not give up or give in I began to notice a few things. I began to notice that these people weren't suffering but were pretty damn happy that they no longer having bad things happen to them. People were also grateful for little things, more spiritual in their own individual way, and less self-centered. These were good people who were sick, and they were great for wanting to get better. 

    As I learned to accept the new me, and I discovered that I liked who I was. I learned to listen and to help others, and that what I was doing was treatment or medicine, not punishment for years of drinking irresponsively.  And now all these 24-hours, a little more than 4,000 of them, all the way up to today, November 6, 2021---it has eleven years since I last had a drink, and my life is as good as it has ever been. 

Just saying, I was given the moon and the stars, it just was on a medallion, and I didn't have to land on the moon, nor was it a "GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND," but it was a big one for me, which was as personally miraculous as going up in a rocket and walking around in unchartered territory. 


And of course, 11 is one more than 10




Tuesday, October 12, 2021

I'm the Guest of the Season 7 Premier of the Oddball Show

 Here's the PODCAST

I'm on at the FOUR MINUTE MARK

Oddball Foundation is dedicated to Mental Health advocacy through Art. If you like their podcast, subscribe or leave a message there


In this Season 7 Premier of The Oddball Show,  we introduce a new format for the show. Who better to bring in a funky new style, then author Tim Gager. We discuss the new  remix style, Tim reads some poems, and talks about social media in our modern-day society,  his best-selling book 2020,  and Jason proclaims Tim an expert on fishing. Brought to you by Oddball Foundation, devoted to mental advocacy through art.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Fall 2021 Fiction Edition of Wilderness House Literary Review (fiction)

 Here is the ISSUE for Wilderness House Literary Review


Ah, autumn in the wilderness. Somewhere out in the wilderness Brian Laundrie is hiding. May he get eaten by a bear or coyote. As fiction editor I would choose that submission. Anyway, the fiction in this issue is wonderous! Check it out below! 





Also check out the rest of the issue's poetry, essays and reviews



Also check out every piece of fiction I've picked for WHLR

Friday, October 1, 2021

Launch Day , October 1, 2021, The Epiphanies Project

 I joined a zoom on-line writing group, The Launch Pad Inner Circle, put together by bestselling author, Anna David, early in the pandemic. Many from that group combined to write The Epiphanies Project: Twenty Personal Revelations. I am included with an essay detailing the moment I decided to go to my first AA meeting--but boy, is this a revealing book by all those who contributed.

The book can be found in Electronic and paperback form. More info? Watch the trailer 

cover by Sheila Smallwood using the art
of Catherine Just


HERE'S THE INFO:

A dream, a car crash, 9/11, a death in the family, a war, a break-up, a suicide, a visit to the doctor, a confession, a moment when things shifted and life trajectories changed—each of the storytellers in The Epiphanies Project has mined a moment of transformation to bring you a unique story of an intimate, life-changing wake-up call. Explore profound life lessons through the incisive, intelligent, soulful, and sometimes very funny lens of 20 outstanding writers who, in exposing their personal turning points, provide a mirror for our own experiences and epiphanies.

The Epiphanies Project features:

Peter Avildsen
Natalie Marie Brobin
Jeanne Foot
Timothy Gager
Blaine Gray
Lisa Harris
John Ferreira
Amy Liz Harrison
Chris Joseph
Jeff Kober
Barbara Legere
Heidi Le
Heather Levin
Sara ONeil
Samantha Perkins
Korey Pollard
Erin Ranta
Beth Robinson
Suelen Romani
Susan Zinn

And a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Anna David!

“The Epiphanies Project is a stunning collection of deeply moving and inspiring personal stories. It reflects the hard work of living through, working through, and beautifully relating some of the toughest struggles life has to offer. If you are seeking hope and strength, it's in these pages."

—Lisa Smith, award-winning author of Girl Walks Out of a Bar 



Monday, September 27, 2021

Michael Cherry Memorial 5k, A run for Suicide Awareness and Prevention




I'm running this. I've never run before 2021. I have had depression, even recently. I have felt this hopeless. I didn''t know Michael. Please read about him. He was important. 

   


I knew Ed Hopkins. I was in a band with Ed., I lived with him at the University of Delaware. I hung out with him in Boston, the place he died. We got into a lot of trouble. Some of the trouble I really can't talk about because....well, legal. I know his family. They still want to know why.  Ed took his life 30 years ago. He was just a kid. He suffered. It's been that long. I still think about him.

  






 I knew Frank Heiss. Frank helped me get sober. We were in Year One together. The guy would have broke through a brick wall for me, and me for him. These people are rare. I don't have people like Frank in my life anymore. The night he died he spoke at an AA Meeting. He spoke about hope. He spoke like everything was alright. No one there knew he suffered. Six hour later he was dead. I miss him. This was difficult to write. 

    




I know Barbara Legere. I didn't know her son Kevin. Kevin was an addict and decided to take his life. He suffered with the stigma of addiction and mental illness. The pain of living was greater than the pain of dying to himself and others. My heart goes out to Barbara, who I know, and Kevin who I didn't. (Barbara's essay in regards to this opens the book  The Epiphanies Project: Twenty Personal Revelations. It's a fantastic read. 

   I am running for Ed, Frank, Kevin, and Barbara. I'm running for Michael's family who will be there. I've never run before. This is my first 5 K. I'm not sure I know how to do this. All of this. Sometimes, I'm not sure how to "Life".  

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So why am I talking about this? Why am I running? It's important to talk about. Talking to someone may save their lives. I had a conversation last night with, good old, NAME REDACTED. We spoke about suicide---and I'm not claiming to be any expert (in fact, I am probably wrong at points here), nor is this intended to be any guide,  but I'm pasting the conversation because by example it's all about understanding or attempting to. It's about asking hard questions and maybe reaching out to someone. It's a real conversation on messenger. Here it is:


Other Person

May I ask you a hard question?

 

I sent

sure

 

Other Person

Ok, just say so if you can't answer

 

I sent

k

 

 Other Person

A friend of mine tried to take their life this year. Thankfully, unsuccessful. I have been at very low places in my life, but don't consider myself suicidal. Why would someone do this? I'm trying to understand better so I can be a better friend.

 

I sent

I've been suicidal.....it's basically, the pain of being alive is too great to endure. it's less painful the act of suicide than to continue for another second. That’s the general. The specific is about people, places and things. The isolation. They not feeling importnat.

 

Other Person

What does the pain come from?

 

 

I sent

the pain, according to Durkheim, which I believe is from living in the random and not having specific connections. Possibly by people places and things.

 

 

Other Person

Listening. Thinking.

 

I sent

sometimes it's caused by a desire to do the act "at someone" or "at the world" but often it's the person's inability to connect, and function.....again outside and persoanl events, or individual chemistry

 

Other Person

do the act?

 

I sent

attempting suicide

 

I sent

"the act"

 

I sent

sometimes it is a cry for help, or to be noticed from the invisible but the later  step is the desire to stop the pain

 

Other Person

So, feeling so isolated, misunderstood, undesirable, and failed that you wish to punish the world for not "seeing" you, but turn on yourself instead? Yes, I understand the pain part

 

I sent

well, end the pain of those feelings

 

Other Person

Yes. Exactly what I would assume.

 

I sent

and I'm sorry about your friend

 

I sent

many of us are suicide survivors, a term for loved ones of the deceased

 

Other Person

 I have felt all of that, but seem to have some sort of gage that recognized "evil" in the world and doesn't turn on self. Or realizes what I need to do to reorient and not turn on self. I've been through hell. I should be dead. I think my friend will be ok. But, I worry. And very much want to understand.

 

I sent

I don't know if it's turning on oneself, but more like an "off" button. Flip off the pain switch

 

Other Person

Interesting. That's why many addicts do drugs. An off button

 

I sent

Exactly, also, as I considered it today, why addicts kill themselves rather than relapse---or right after relapse

because doing the drugs is a lose, and not doing them is also a lose

 

Other Person

Sure. A bind.

Ok, so its just (I don't mean that lightly) another coping skill

 

I sent

the lowest common coping skill, in a way, yes

 

Other Person

Because the pain persists

 

I sent

suicide--it's too painful to live and not to live at the same time

 

Other Person

Sure. But a legit coping skill. We need to legitimize is more.

 

I sent

therapy can only do so much for my depression

 

Other Person

I agree

 

I sent

coping by lacking athe ability to cope?

 

Other Person

As my first therapist said: therapy is great but friends are better."

 

I sent

I agree with that

 

Other Person

Coping: (of a person) deal effectively with something difficult: Suicide is "effective" when you are in that much pain.

 

I sent

I agree

 

Other Person

 I'm not going to shame it and call it ineffective

 

I sent

you'd have to define "effective" in that original definition

 

Other Person

New, "healthy" coping skills don't deal with pain. It's the pain that needs addressing

 

I sent

most coping skills somehow are avoidance

 

Other Person

I'm just trying to show that "coping" is not a healthy goal. I have a lot of good coping skills that are not avoidance. But I also address my pain. The coping will only sustain me long enough to address pain.

 

I sent

but what's the alternative

  

Other Person

Love


“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”


― M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

 




   


Sunday, August 29, 2021

REPLAY CENTRAL: The four features from reduced Summer 2021 schedule of Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series

          Many LIVE reading series take summers off.  Doing Virtual Fridays Dire on Zoom weekly is a blast, but I wanted some Friday nights in the summer to myself. I ended up missing it, and having four events from July-through August seems scant...but they were some great evenings. Check out Natalie Bonfig, John Domini, Anna VQ Ross, and Rachel Yoder, if you missed them----as these Dire presentations by the authors, I've been told, are like a master class in writing. 


July 9:  Natalie Brobin Bonfig




July 23 2021: John Domini


August 6 2021: Anna VQ Ross

 
August 20 2021: Rachel Yoder




Thursday, August 26, 2021

Autumn Schedule (back to weekly): Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series

    Features will read 10 minutes at either 7 PM or 8 PM Eastern Standard Time, at their preference (before or after the open mic). To see these events on live stream join Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series Group on Facebook or message me for information. All feature segments get uploaded to YouTube, and you have the option to subscribe.  Our  features are followed or preceded by the best open mic in the world, so bring your best stuff. 


Note: I no longer accept queries for features. 


September

3    LABOR DAY WEEKEND OFF

10   DeMisty Bellinger

 17   Cheryl Pappas

 24   Matt Bell



October

1    Michael Keith

8   Gloria Mindock

15  Molly Gaudry

22   CD Collins

29  Kevin Prufer



 November

 5  Beth Robinson

12  Alina Stefanuscu

19  Meg Smith

26  Gregory Wolos



December

3  Damian Dressick

10 Jason Wright

17 Blake Butler

24 OFF
31 OFF

Saturday, August 21, 2021

How many Dires by location? Let me count ...


    People that know the Zoom Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series around the world, may not know of the live event I ran in Cambridge, Ma. People in Cambridge may not realize that after a year and a half it popped up as a Zoom reading. For all of those folks here is the complete event tally and locations. 





.
                                                                                                                                      TOTAL

February-March 2001 - First Tuesday reading at Cantab Underground                            2


June 2001-Aug 2002- First Friday, Out of the Blue Art Gallery                                       15
                                    168 Brookline St., Cambridge



Sept 2002-Oct 2011-First Friday, Out of the Blue Art Gallery                                         110
                                    106 Prospect St., Cambridge






Nov 4, 2011-                -First Friday, Yarrow                                                                        1
                                    106 Prospect St., Cambridge



Dec 2011-Sept 2014-First Friday, Out of the Blue Art Gallery                                          34
                                    106 Prospect St., Cambridge



Oct 2014-Nov 2017-First Friday, Out of the Blue Too                                                       38
                              541 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge 

Dec 2017-June 2018 First Saturday Afternoon, The Middle East Cafe
                               480 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge                                                    7

July 2018                   First Saturday Afternoon, Zuzu
                               480 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge                                                    1


Aug 2018-                Oct 2018 First Saturday Night, First Friday too
                                 Center for Arts at the Armory
                               191 Highland Ave., Somerville                                                             3

April 2020-August 20          Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series  on Zoom                    62 and counting
                                                                                                                                     __________
                                                                                                                                          273




Monday, August 2, 2021

The Resigned Life of a Condo Trustee, published in Great Weather for Media's Anthology, Paper Teller Diorama


Wow, that's a mouthful. I know Great Weather For Media, the publisher of this anthology, through their sponsored reading series in New York City George Wallace, David Lawton and all the gang. 
 They also put out a variety of books and if you check out the link, there are many to choose from. 

The anthology, Paper Teller Diorama includes my flash fiction, The Resigned Life of a Condo Owner. (sneak preview to the left)

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: I am a condominium trustee at my complex in real life, not just playing one on TV, The adjacent buildings next to ours were being used as a dumping ground. I took that to create this twist of fact flash fiction piece where the Department of Public Works and various town offices calls our brave protagonist. Anyway, please check it out, at $19.00, it's cheap, without  garbage. 


MORE ON THE ANTHOLOGY:

Paper Teller Diorama is a thrilling collection of contemporary poetry and fiction from established and emerging writers across the United States and beyond. The anthology also contains an interview with San Francisco poet laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin.

Contributors: Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones, Abraham Ajani, Austin Alexis, Joel Allegretti, Talal Alyan, John Amen, Oliver Baer, Pichchenda Bao, Tanya M. Beltran, Guy Biederman, Ama Birch, billy cancel, Ian Cappelli, Paul Corman-Roberts, Jeff Cottrill, Carol V. Davis, John Paul Davis, Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees, Sean Thomas Dougherty, SaraEve Fermin, Cornelius Fortune, Timothy Gager, Emma Ginader, Diane Goettel, Rosalind Goldsmith, Leanne Grabel, Isa Guzman, Tim Hanson, Cindy Hochman, Erica Hoffmeister, Matthew Hupert, Karl Michael Iglesias, Alexis V. Jackson, Kit Kennedy, Ivan Klein, Andrew Kozma, Kate LaDew, Chime Lama, Jane LeCroy, Simon Lowe, Linda Malnack, Loria Mendoza, Anthony Morales, Valerie Nieman, Christy O’Callaghan, Jimmy Pappas, Wanda Phipps, Kenneth Pobo, Nicca Ray, Timothy Ree, Nnadi Samuel, Alan Semerdjian, Robert L. Shuster, Hilary Sideris, Myles Taylor, Aaron Tillman, John J. Trause, Andres Vaamonde, Cleo-Valentin, Alexandra van de Kamp, Carl Watson, Shannon Wolf, Celeste Rose Wood, Janet Jiahui Wu, Anton Yakovlev, and Donald Zirilli

George Wallace interviews Tongo Eisen-Martin

Cover artwork by Amy Brier


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

15 minute reading with WANA live from June 30, 2021

 I was posting a lot of video readings so I held back on posting this one (bottom of pate), but it's a good one for short attention spans, clocking in at 16:26.      


WANA (Writers Association of Northern Appalach) hosts a reading interview often and the hostsDamian Dressick, and Christina Fisanick are energetic and professional. 


HERE  IS the show: