Sometimes I feel so scared. I heard recently, somewhere, that “courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the ability to take action in spite of it”. Something like that. Hell, how many therapists told me that? “It’s ok to be afraid, just keep moving.” I have to keep reminding myself to remember not to forget what I already know, because, goddamnit, I keep forgetting.
I read Gods, Drunks, and Poets at open mic on Thursday. A woman asked me if she could have a copy of it, and said a lot of people came up to her after the reading and told her how much they liked my poem. I’d rather she buy my chapbook, but I didn’t want to refuse her request, since she invited me to be a featured reader in March. She said she wanted to read and re-read my poem, and show it to other people. I hope she does. Sure, man, tell them my name, have them come hear me read. Please, yes, create buzz.
On Friday I read a “crazy-love” poem called Creature at another open mic. After the reading this guy came up to me and said he really liked my poem. He was all smiles, and was practically bowing to me. “Ah,” I thought, “cool. A fan.” And this other guy, a poet, whom I have been running into at readings, came up to me and said, “I’ve been hearing you read. I like your work.” I said, “Likewise.” He gave me a friendly hug. A few other folks, as I walked through the crowd after the reading, smiled and commented: “I liked your poem.” “That was great.” “That was really good.” I left feeling pretty good about the positive feedback. I felt really good about myself.
So, what happened? By the time I got home, my negative inner-voices attacked me. The negativity I was fed, and that I internalized, began to abuse me. “I’m a piece of shit,” I found myself saying. “I’m an idiot. I’m a fool. I’m so stupid, stupid, stupid.” I had completely lost the good feeling. I didn’t feel light anymore, I felt heavy, tired, and sad. It felt as if I were getting beat up, slammed around, punched, kicked, and slapped. Well, I was, actually. I psychologically beat up my own self. Then, somewhere else inside of me another voice said, “Don’t speak ill of yourself. Don’t abuse yourself.” That internal voice wasn’t as loud as the negative voice. But I said out loud, “I don’t deserve to be insulted.” I have to keep reminding myself. I deserve to embrace the positive feedback, and don’t deserve abuse. One day the positive voice will grow stronger than the negative voice, as long as I remember to remind myself not to forget.
I crawled into bed, feeling weak. The negative voice screamed at me, while the benevolent voice faintly whispered, “Don’t listen. It isn’t true.” It felt true, though, and I was whispering to myself, “I’m such an idiot. I’m a piece of shit.” I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t stop. I felt very sad, and afraid. But I decided to ride it out, like a fever.
The negative inner-voices create my fear. This fear is self-doubt, and that makes me feel sad, alone, helpless, and lost. But I’m not helpless. And I don’t have to be alone (if I don’t want). And if I’m lost, courage will help me find my way. The woman who asked me for my poem, and who has invited me to read in March, said to me, “You’re a really good reader. And you have a real presence up there.” She was smiling ear to ear, she was excited about me. I’ve been reminding myself about this and the other positive feedback. I remind myself, like taking doses of medicine, daily. It is medicine, to focus on the positive experience, to drink it.
I’m watching Palladia. Man, I love Palladia. Right now it’s metal. Iron Maiden in concert. Geezus, it’s fucking energizing.
I love all types of rock and roll, except what is corporate pop trying to pass as rock. Like Britney Spears, or Katy Perry. Ugh! Lord, those dumb bitches sell their shit big too. My god, they have fans! But what the hell. If they make some people happy, and they are happy, well, fuck me.
I love music. Great music. Doesn’t matter so much the genre, just as long as it’s great music. I’m a super fan of Jack White. Man, that guy is a genius. I also love classic country: Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, and I really like his daughter too, Roseanne Cash. And, boy, I remember Patsy Cline. I don’t know if I already told this story, but, anyway, there was a time when I couldn’t listen to Patsy sing I Fall To Pieces. I always fell to pieces. I felt so bad for a date once. He put on a Patsy Cline CD. I didn’t know it, until the first song came on–I Fall To Pieces. I immediately broke into sobs. I was so embarrassed, and he was so surprised. “I’m so sorry,” I sobbed, “I’m sorry.” He ran over and changed the CD. Poor guy. That was really pathetic of me. I know. Hell, it’s the stuff of a Saturday Night Live skit.
The other day on Palladia, I was digging Blake Shelton, last week Dwight Yoakum, before that Gary Clark, Jr. (love him!), and not too long ago, Ben Harper (love him too!) with Charlie Musslewhite (super!) Yeah, love music. And great lyrics. OH! Now it’s Ozzie! Yeah!
Many, many years ago, I went to a concert, and Ozzie was one of the performers. He wanted to fire up the audience. It was a huge arena. He was a small figure on the stage, and the furthest fan was a dot in the distance from where he stood. Ozzie yells, “I wanna hear you.” And the audience yelled, “Yeah!” But in such a huge stadium, it was hardly a buzzing mosquito. Ozzie, goes, “I can’t hear you!” And then again, “I can’t hear you! I wanna hear you! I wanna touch you. I wanna feel you. I WANNA FUCK YOU!” Man, this hush fell over the crowd, momentarily stunned, but only for a second. My crazy sister (in days we still kept in touch) jumped up, threw her arms up in the air, and hollered, “AAGGHH! COME OWWWNNN,” sweeping her arm in front of her, beckoning him to come forward. We were too far away for Ozzie to hear us, of course, but people around us turned to look at her, and were immediately infected with joy, laughter, and fun, the Spirit of Rock and Roll, and they all jumped up, their arms flew up over their heads, and they hollered, “WHOOO! YEAH!” It spread like a wave in front of us. We were way up in the bleachers. The whole stadium roared. Ozzie smiled, he was so very pleased. That’s exactly what he wanted. My sister wasn’t the only one who reacted like that, but in our immediate area, it was her voice that started the wave that swept forward, people jumping up, roaring. It was an amazing sight that I will never forget.
Yesterday, I sent some poems to this guy who is planning a poetry reading event in April. He asked me to send him some of my work. I don’t know if I’ll be chosen to be one of the readers. We’ll see. I need gigs. It terrifies me, but I want to do it. I want to step out of the shadows, step up to the mic, and into the light.