I took some time off from work in January. My girlfriend was away for the month and I figured it would be cool to start the year off with a big chunk of time to just not do much of anything. On the first or second day I dragged out the ol’ Smith Corona and plopped it down on the kitchen table. What follows is the writings I hammered out on the typewriter during my time off. I did leave Calgary during this period to go back and visit my old stomping grounds in Nanaimo, that comes up at the end. It’s mainly personal stuff about my life and how I feel about it, but I felt that some of the lines were good enough to warrant putting the whole mess on here.
January. I’m alone and I don’t want to be. I hate this month. I’ve talked about how much I hate it. At the opening of every January I tell myself that I will better myself, that I will go out and buy some good food, that I will exercise, but I know that that’s not going to happening, and when it doesn’t happen I’ll feel alone and unaccomplished. It’s cold outside again, the brief warm spell that usually crash lands into the tail end of December is over. Something that has always bugged me about this city is its clockwork snowmelt and warm weather the week of Christmas. The winter-wonderland is anything but the only week of the year that somebody would welcome it.
This city. This city and I. Her and I and this city. It’s a story I never wanted to write, and if I ever did put pen to paper about it, it would be a happier story than it is now. How can two people be so happy and so miserable at the same time? How can two people be so in love, so deeply entwined with one another, yet still both have trouble sleeping, and trouble keeping stiff drinks to hours after the passing of noon? Will we always be unhappy? Is there no place for us except with each other? Are we doomed to suffer in places not for us, while being with the person who is meant for us? Those questions are too big and deep for a month like January. Give them to me in the summer months, when I can think about them when my brain is warm and can be distracted by sunshine and green grass.
All problems in the January turn into a dreary slog. They become problems to chew on till your teeth hurt, and when you do swallow, they end up something that masticates inside you for far too long.
I’m still alone. Writing this has changed nothing. The heavy movement of the typewriter has managed to knock a jar of pens off of my desk. That is the only change instigated by this piece. I’m getting distracted. I’m trying to distract from my loneliness, but when the distraction fades out, you’re still alone; you just now hate yourself from trying to distract yourself so crudely. You can feel the walls judging you. You hear them mock the sad man at the typewriter, just like the weather mocks you with snow and cold, assuring you that the outside world is just as off-limits to you right now as a hug from the woman you love, because she’s 900 miles away and you’re alone.
I switched tenses there for a bit, I was hoping it would all seem less tragic if it were happening to someone else. Another distraction I cooked up.
The sheets still smell like her. I sleep on her side of the bed. It’s not that bad. I’m making too big of a deal out of this.
Yet, isn’t that what writers are supposed to do?
You’re a cold, bitter, merciless bitch during the winter. I’m watching tendrils of smoke rise off of your downtown skyscrapers. I’ll admit, you’re pretty even when you’re frigid.
I’m growing tired of this love triangle. I love you and she loves me and I love her, but boy does she ever loathe you. Maybe if you didn’t bring forth snow, misery, and sleepless nights? Try and be more of a city and less of an obstacle.
Why am I so attached to you Calgary? Is it because I grew up on your outskirts looking in? Is it because you were always perfect from afar?
I don’t that I have roots here. I don’t feel civic pride in my district. I don’t feel the need to extoll your virtues to my friends. I just feel the need to stay here.
I’ve felt like turning to poetry. However, my poetry is terrible, and I wouldn’t wish it on even the silent walls of this apartment. I want this to be a great artistic endeavour, but it remains un-defined and pathless. I’m not creative early in the mornings.
It is January 4th. I’m almost 26. I’ve gained weight and smoke fewer cigarettes that I did before. I still can’t grow a beard. I like to think I’m pretty good in bed. I fuck better than I write poetry, at least.
This isn’t the time for a life re-evaluation, but then again, when is? When do you wake up and know that this is the day that it’s time to burn everything to cinders and start again? I like to think that I’ll know it when it comes. I need to establish some kind of routine though, if only to know when it’s being broken and changed. I need a new groove; one that isn’t just an established love for coffee. This groove is beginning to skip the needle.
January 4th. It’s time to flip this record. It’s time to change the track, and time for a different metaphor. If it were easy to change everyone one would do it. Which is why you can sell books telling people how to do it. I’m still not one for self-help. I’m still not one for wedge shoes on attractive women. On most days, those two facts are equally important.
This is now drivel. I will consume coffee and check to see if I have some structure kicking around in the kitchen drawers.
I’m writing this for you because I miss you. I miss everything about you. Including all that stuff you do that pisses me off. I kid of course; it’s not that much stuff. This love letter is going badly. It started off with good intentions, and now it has turned into me trying to be witty, for that I apologize and all that other shit.
I miss you so much.
Calgary is colder and lonelier without you. I don’t sleep as well. I’ve you all of this before, but it bears repeating. The walls seem to hold less light when you are away, and I keep expecting to hear your key in the door.
I know you’re not gone forever, you’re not even going to be gone for that long, but I’m something of a writer and I tend to blow things out of proportion. When I do it hopefully comes out as something creative, worldly, and worth reading.
I took a bad picture of myself a few seconds ago. Now I know I have to shave. Sorry, I’m getting distracted. You know how it happens. I wish that you were here. I wish that I could kiss you. I wish the apartment still rang with the sounds of you. Small things to miss, but I miss them.
I miss the big things too, I just don’t want to write about them out of a deep seeded fear about failing to do them justice with paltry words and getting them all fucking wrong. So instead I’ll just assure you that I am indeed thinking about them, and that I miss them just as much as I miss all of the small things.
This letter isn’t as good as I want it to be. I’ll write you another one later on.
I’m fucked if this all reads like a journal entry. Fuck, journals aren’t interesting to read, nor are they worthy of praise or mention unless you’re Ernest Fucking Hemingway. If you were Hemingway, your journal entries would be about something like taking a hill, or killing a shark, or drinking your body weight in scotch. In my case, it’s about eating carrots for breakfast and being on my second pot of black coffee and trying to check the same ten webpages I checked five minutes ago. This typing has been cathartic. It feels good to hit something and see the results present themselves in tight, neat lines of writing. Even if the writing reads like journal entries and nobody worth a damn will ever read them. I haven’t had that second pot of coffee yet, that’s probably why I’m so bitter. This is a rant. This is bile. This is nothing worth anything except the momentary pleasure it gives me. This is writing as hitting a punching bag. I’m not even going to bother with paragraphs. Paragraphs shouldn’t be wasted on whatever shit this is supposed to be. Dylan in the background, I wonder if he ever did this. No, his typewriter was always spewing psycho poetry and random words. I should try that and see if I can become the voice of a generation: Bearded men scream at hawks, as those in charge skin themselves alive for nickels. Black cats mate with ladders, in hope of reaching higher heights through stronger breeding. I see eyes in the sky and snow on the ground. My life is defined by the food I’m eating and bullshit. I lost the plot at the end.
Fuck it, the flow has stopped. The river has been dammed up.
I don’t feel any better.
I’ve been feeling an excessive need to talk to you. I think it’s what I miss the most. It’s the biggest hole. My typewriter sounds like it’s going to explode if I keep this us. Too bad TLC is never in the cards for a typewriter, it will always be an instrument that’s battered, beaten, slammed, and hit.
I digress again, but I think I’m just looking for someone to talk to. I think the cats miss you as well, either that or they’ve just sensed my terrible mood. GG seems to roam the halls howling her little cat song, and Charles seems moody. Now I’m writing about cats. What was once prose about booze, filthy sex, and dark nights of the soul has now morphed into a “What’s New with Us!” letter where the toddlers have been replaced by the felines. Oh well, an artistic growth had to happen sometime. I really need to clean this typewriter, it’s purring like a cat the size of a Cadillac. There is again, more talk about cats. I thought all of that stuff was supposed to stay on the Internet.
I’m writing this naked, while drinking a cup of coffee. Those details and unessential and late to the party, but I thought you should know anyway.
January is flying by and I couldn’t be happier about anything if I tried. February and me have a pretty shaky relationship as well, but any month that’s cold in addition to containing my birthday is a month that should know I would want to avoid it.
But you’ll be here, and when you’re here everything is better. This all sounds so scripted and poor, all these sayings on longing and love, but I assure you that I’m feeling all of them in the way they were originally written about by better writers. Like in novels of old, or in songs from the 60’s. That’s the kind of longing, loss, and loneliness that we’re dealing with here, like a Beatles song left in the cold bus station without mittens. That metaphor doesn’t work, but I hope you think it’s cool anyway.
I forgot to write “Dear B,” at the beginning of this letter, so now I’ll just place it at the end.
Wine is fine, but whiskey is quicker. Wine is harder to throw up though, so one should figure that into the equation.
The room spins and I spin with it. My head lilts and I wonder where I set my drink down.
I’m not writing this drunk or hung-over. That’s probably why it might achieve some kind of clarity.
I need coffee and miles davis. Excuse me, Miles Davis
That line right there sets my writing back two years.
I’m still enslaved by both; I just don’t want to write about them anymore.
Hollow, too hollow, not enough punch.
An amateur’s description thrown into the world
To be mutilated by uncaring editors
So for their sake
I’m not going to tell you what I’m doing for breakfast
Just that I’m eating it
At 2 in the afternoon.
Husker Du and a cup of expensive tea. Working on the novel that is a thinly veiled discussion of my life. It’s easy to be hip, when you think that being hip is negative. I’m back in my frozen wasteland, spun of the orbit of the coast and crashing back into my apartment routine. It felt good to go on vacation, but at the same time it never feels as good as it should. Nanaimo was dead, like walking through a ghost town. You were radiant though. I don’t think I could go back there easily, as I don’t think my mind could take it. Drumming my fingers on the table. The sun is out again. Calgary has this habit of always looking prettying and eying me seductively any time I come back to it from somewhere else. It’s a ruse it can’t keep up for long, tragically.
But I should bask in it while it does.