Darwin Never Had A Driver’s License


The theory of evolution states
Those unfavorable traits we carry in our genes
Will be eradicated by means of selective
Extinction by a very slow process
Of making those genes unavailable
Basically,
If it doesn’t help the species flourish
It eventually dies.

I know I have a lot of unfavorable genes
Depression, anxiety, Asperger’s, and bad joints
Meds, therapists, and psychiatrists
All sort of make me feel like
My soul went shopping for its chassis and engine
And came out of the lot with a certified
Lemon.

I’ve had relationships.
I’ve come close to relationships, too.
They all end in similar fashions
With the girl doing the dashing
Whether I did grabbed the heart
And did the smashing
Like a football against the turf

(Even though you get a penalty
For unsportsmanlike conduct
When you spike the ball
If it ain’t yours, who cares?)

Or she tied every heart string
Around her finger like a she wanted a reminder
And when the tension got to be too much
She clenched her fist and rushed out
So fast, it took only that part of me with her
But left me living to survive with that pain.

Listen, I wonder sometimes if I
Was meant to die lonely while I watch
Everyone around me find out what it means
To at least be momentarily overjoyed
With the rings on their fingers and
Kids popping out every which woman

I am not, nor have I ever been built
To know what that is like in a sense
Other than one that is unique to me.
And if that means facing Darwin’s
Stoic perception of how traits die out
In this world then I will fight him to
Every last hair in his beard

Because as much as we agree
On certain things I don’t think
He’ll come out of this fight breathing
He is not the master of my destiny
And evolution was just a small picture
In this great landscape painting
Long before he described
The evolution of the species

Truth is, I don’t know what I’m doing
Don’t know where I’m going
Right now it seems prudent just to do
What is required to survive.

That’s hard enough most of the time.
Besides, if I had stopped my life
Every time I’d fallen in love
I’d feel even farther behind.
I only did that once
And it was the biggest waste
Of three years of my life

But sometimes, I ask God,
He being greater than Darwin
What it is I’m supposed to be doing
I don’t have a concrete answer yet
But like I learned driving from
Nebraska to Wyoming to Utah
To Nevada to California to Arizona (Fuck you)
To Kansas and back home

When you’re surrounded by open road
It’s way easier to go forward than back
Or to wait on the shoulder
For someone to save you

Fill up that tank,
Replace that tire and put miles behind you
And thank God Darwin can’t drive.

If Wishes Were Horses I’d Have a lot of Glue

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I have walked the right side of the tracks
For as long as I can remember,
Or at least I tried.
My virtues and convictions
I carried in a messenger bag
Draped across my chest and shoulder
I kept my head down
Eyes pinned to the eyes and edge of the rail
Stepping out the way of the trains
And other drifters along the way
Because it’s easier to keep everything to yourself
And wear it like a sash of honor
Even though it’s more like
The weight of a thousand fallen stars
I may have wished upon and caught as mementos
Along with eyelashes I caught midair
And a million timepieces
Stopped precisely at eleven past eleven.
I keep a tab of the money donated
To the water of the wishing well.

Yes, they are all mine
And they never came true.

I stared into the eyes of the moon
Reflecting its glow from my own
Sleep-deprived, night-dilated craters
Wondering if, at that moment,
You’re absorbing the same
Inverted face that’s casting spotlights
Against my retinas.

Even if you are
It’s not the same star we’re wishin’ on.
Reflections in rain puddles are distorted
From stepping on what I see
While someone is painting a clear
To the finest detail,
Maybe chiseled out of stone
While I fall apart like clay.

I am a coward of the worst kind;
The one who cradles his heart
With a death grip
Who fears that at any point letting
Anything slip
Feels like a breach of etiquette
And I avoid step aside for the head-on,
The heart-to-heart collisions
With eyes to the moon
Or down at my feet

It’s just easier to walk through life
Never knowing.
Even though I tell myself I do.
Either way I walk to the office
And sit down and listen
Avoiding what I’m really thinking
And then I go home screaming
This one was mine
And it never came true.

Loneliest Man[ifesto]

write

I thought. I thought again. Some might say I overthought. They say that knowledge is power. They also say true wisdom is admitting you know nothing at all. And even more so, that with wisdom comes sorrow; knowledge only makes one more frustrated. I guess there’s a part of me that wishes I hadn’t found out I had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) after a decade of dealing with the depression, anxiety, and uncontrollable moods of Bipolar II disorder. Being the ever-inquisitive I just had to ask that question, had to needle the DSM thinking there might be more and it turns out there was.

When talking to friends and family about this, while being tested then waiting for my test results, I think the must uttered phrase was, “It’s not like it’s going to change anything.” I said it and I think almost everyone else said it too. The logic I followed was if I have it then I’ve been living with the effects of it my whole life and will have already developed coping strategies and ways around the strange wiring of my brain. Getting a diagnosis would, if anything, only confirm I’m more atypical than most and I could go about my life in as normal a fashion as I typically do.

I was so wrong.

That final meeting with the psychologist seemed almost anti-climactic. She gave me the diagnosis as she was getting up to leave. I will admit I was nonplussed by this because I figured I had the whole thing handled, remember? Life had already thrown me for a loop a million times that surely I could get a grip on this and move on with my life. And I was right for a while. Because I didn’t know anything about what it meant and what the implications would be for me going forward as to how to best manage myself and my life. So, of course, I began reading and studying and learning as only I know how to do and I think I moved too fast to cope for the way the shift in perception would hit me.

Did you ever find out you could do something as a natural ability without any sort of coaching or training, things like wiggling your ears or put a pair of glasses on for the first time after years of not being able to see? Very quickly, my perception of my perception of the world began to change. I learned things about my ability to perceive the world I figured were normal but were actually part of being on the spectrum. I react to every noise, especially in an enclosed space like cell phones, dropped writing utensils, the scraping of chairs, etc. Most people just tune that out either by choice or by their brain’s innate ability to gate that sensory input out.

I’ve never been good in large crowds unless it was at shows. But I went to one a while back and realized I didn’t really talk to anyone. I don’t speak small talk and I never have. If there’s live music playing that’s pretty much all I’ll pay attention to. I distinctly remember watching this one guy just go crazy on an acoustic guitar with this southern drawl slipping into his voice like ice into a glass of whiskey and that’s all I heard. Not because it was loud but because music is something my ears have always been attuned to. When I worked in customer service I used to sneak my headphones in so I shunt out some of the noise from all around me including the irritating white noise generators.

Anyway, I was listening and watching this guy play when I felt a hand at my back. I don’t think I moved at all but my friend’s face came into view. She asked me if I was alright with some concern on her face. I told her everything was fine. That was just how I did shows. She and the other friend I came with went and small-talked with their other friends who rode in separately. I didn’t mind. I’m not trying to evoke some sense of sympathy like they bailed on me or something. They did their thing and I did mine and the show was good.

The hands of the clock have made a few trips around its face and maybe even a page has come off the calendar since then. I couldn’t tell you if things have just gotten worse because I’m more cognizant of everything or if it’s stress from school, but I have not spent a lot of time outside of my apartment. I’ve been invited out once or twice to see a show but the minute someone does there’s this rising panic under my diaphragm. I picture being in a situation being surrounded by mostly strangers in a bar I have never personally seen. Where will I park? Who else will be there? What am I supposed to do with myself because I really dread conversation with people I don’t know and I just keep thinking these things and they become too real for me and I have to bail out.

I hate bailing out because of social anxiety. It makes me feel like a complete flake. It also makes me feel as if my friends will be disinclined to invite me to whatever get together they have in the future because they figure I just won’t show up. I really haven’t had a chance to explain my thought process to anyone or why I don’t go out in public much anymore. And usually my brain isn’t preoccupied with the absence of other people. I read a lot, I have homework to do, I have music I could write, or I could even take a nap. I’m usually pretty self-sufficient and I always have been.

But then the devil creeps in and reminds me I’m 30 years old. This old lead weight just sort of sits in the bottom of my ventricles and I don’t want to get out of bed. I feel very alone in the fact that my brain works the way it does and that I haven’t had a chance to explain myself to anybody. I’m just here like I’ve always been here. I have some friends who understand, sure. My parents are difficult sometimes, especially my mom because she has experience in dealing with this with my little sister. She started moving things from the spots where I keep them which was actually anxiety-inducing. I couldn’t use my George Foreman grill for a while because she cleaned it and I didn’t want to make it dirty again.

There’s no one I can explain this to and have it make any sort of sense, I feel like. I can try my hardest and the result is what you’re reading but there are not a lot of people who are going to read this because, for me, I don’t feel 100% human all the time. I feel like some forgotten creature that some people bring out for a laugh every now and again and only at their convenience. And the beauty of that thought is it could be right but it could be totally wrong because of mind-blindness, or an inability to see the nonverbal cues that most neuro-typicals use to understand someone’s thinking. I hope I’m wrong.

But that doesn’t change how I feel now.

Gunshot for an Alarm Clock

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Born as a son of a waitress and a railroad worker
who rode the rails out of here
and left her doing her best to serve me
when she married the a truck driving son of a truck driver.
Hard to persist against the blowback of that.
It stunted growth and twisted new wrinkles
programmed with pattern recognition.
It sees when the past is about to hit
point B from point A to loop back to the front again,
reincarnating the past into different forms of
ways to incur battle wounds that bloom into scars.

Trust exists outside a cage
and, so, I know why the bird flies against the wires;
it wants to believe the outside is embracing
while I embrace my perch and linger within my bars.
I am filled to the brim
my cup is full of anxiety
and it rattles, shakes, and spills all over
Truth be told,
I’m afraid of almost everything.
My forays into leaning into the wind
has left me sprawled across the dirt
and when I dust myself off
I’m ankle-deep in salt water;
it must have fallen out of my pocket
when gravity grasped my collar and pulled.

The pills are meant to keep me gripping
the lighter side but I still sink deep
and in the abyss I sit and wait and watch
life pass me by, year by year.

I’m terrified of you. Whoever you are.
Because ‘you’ have stepped into and out of this cage
and slammed the door in my face because I
was enamored by the glitter in your tail feathers,
the impossible beauty in your plumage,
And ‘you’ turned out to be someone I knew
So, I don’t know the you that is yet to come
or if you’re even on your way.
It’s just getting harder to burn down the world
when everyone has had an easier time than I.
I still feel like the child that grew into
the live wire of anxiety and the cold water of depression.
The door to the cage is almost too much to overcome these days.

Everyday strikes me like the same tuning fork;
the vibration igniting my nerves.
I’ve got a gunshot for an alarm clock
And the pills are easier to swallow
than the rest of my day.
I’m okay with being alone.
Loneliness is another story.

The Rare Occasion When Affect is a Noun

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He knows no one shines forever; they change with the weather.

– AFI “On the Arrow”

I can’t remember a time when the coming of the winter season didn’t bring with it the heavy weight of depression. Since I was in my early teens I have struggled with this time of year and the lows it evokes for reasons I have never been able to comprehend. This condition has an actual clinical term: Seasonal Affective Disorder, the condition with the unbelievably appropriate acronym, SAD. Those who are familiar with struggles of depression know, however, this feeling goes well beyond a simple feeling of sadness. It’s a weight that roots you to the ground, strips you of your willpower, and fills your mind with darkness. It strips away your ability to be human and to function around other people. This, at least, has been my experience. Over the years I have simply come to deal with it because, so far, it has proven to be extremely resistant to any drug I’ve been prescribed.

There was a great amount of hope this year, though. There was a glimmer on the horizon that I may have started to escape this weight I’ve carried for at least 15 years. I was working out, I was eating decently and regularly; I was taking care of myself which is key when one struggles with depression. I’ve learned to not sit in it or it will only tie more stones around my ankle and cause me to sink further into the abyss of my own thoughts. However, after a session with my therapist I discovered, these measures seemed to only be masking the symptoms rather than getting rid of them. It struck me like a brick while we were discussing my moods that I have been depressed the entire time I was doing well. My affect was flat and I had no energy. Over the years, I’ve learned to fake being in a good mood but, “fake it until you make it,” only works for so long. Especially for an introvert who bleeds energy when he’s around people like me. It only picks away at what little barrier I have left to guard my lows from the outside world.

I can feel myself going down again…

– Sage Francis “Eviction Notice”

Those who don’t live with depression have a very difficult time understanding what it’s like to have to live with the shifting winds of moods. Depression doesn’t, at least for me, exist as one feeling but more of varying degrees of lows with different temperaments. I’m used to the bottom end of the spectrum where it’s impossible for me to get out of bed and I can’t think of anything to do or any good reason to peel off the blankets and do something. It’s crucial to learn how to take care of yourself in these instances as impossible as it may seem. These are the days I don’t make it into work and I spend most of my day watching movies – if I can get out of bed to my DVD collection – or marathon-watching something on Netflix. These days I usually don’t really bother to eat and I ignore anyone and everyone. The irony of this is that, in this state of mind, having someone around to treat you as they normally would is actually really helpful. Of course, there is always the fear of letting someone too close and the fear they may later use the information they gather against you. I’ve been there. It makes trusting people with anything difficult.

Lately, I’ve been barely falling just under the surface of the water. I can feel the ache in my chest and stomach that I’m used to when I’m feeling everything full force but it’s more like background noise. It’s not bad enough that it completely affects how I function so I’m able to do everything I normally do but there’s this subtle bell in the background ringing to the tones of melancholy. It sits just below the surface and just scratches underneath my skin to let me know its there. My energy is still pretty low and it comes with sudden bursts of irritation and anger, at one point turned inward, forcing me to control or sequester myself. I have to find something to take my mind off of it. Writing is the biggest help and, while not many people understand, it helps me manage and that’s all I really care about. Some people might see it as selfish and that’s okay but, if there’s anything I’ve learned from two years of therapy and 15 years of dealing with myself, I have to take care of myself first and people who expect me to take care of them are poison to my soul. It’s one of the reasons I keep so few friends.

So, I’m continuing to fight with myself as I try to find ways to keep from losing it completely. It’s difficult sometimes to see faces of people you used to know who have now become people you knew. It’s hard to see people make connections and meet people and wonder why it’s so hard for me to do that. I’d like to think of myself as a decent person with good values and a good heart, though cracked and bandaged it may be. Yet I find more people exiting my life then entering and this just adds more weight to my shoulders. Depression makes you constantly ask yourself if there’s something wrong with you, if you’re defective. I have to believe God made me this way and he doesn’t make mistakes. I am who I am for a reason and I have to deal with things the best I can and lean on him to get me through it. I have connected with God more lately than I have in a long time which has been fantastic.

There are days I wish I didn’t feel so alone, even though there are days I thrive on my own. I wish I didn’t have to see the bottom of the barrel so often but I am thankful I can still breathe despite the weight on my chest. These lows will come and go just like people come and go.

“PLEASE. BELIEVE ME. I’M REAL. IT HURTS.” – The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

How I Once Battled at Sea

ShipPardon me, dear lady, as we have this heart to heart, our arteries firing cannonball blood clots in passing like warring ships passing on the open ocean, battling for the right of supremacy. Reach deep into my armory and gather the ballistics as the logistics between us are governing our directions. We are guided by the positions of the stars while the moon just sits and laughs at the folly of our back and forth thrombotic battery.

If only the truth were as easy to see as the approaching shorelines from the crows nest with a spyglass. But, as it stands we stand grounded by our anchors and windless sails.

It’s difficult to climb when the rope’s been cut and the ladder will no longer support the weight of a heart weighed down by lead shot from the firing of too many nearby guns. My hands alone make the rungs snap and I’m left on the deck with the crowd rather than standing out with the attitude that comes with altitude. so my lamplight shines in the night like an oil lamp-like lighthouse keeping you from crashing against the rocks of the shore.

Instead, let me lead you to safety, to the port of my open arms, my flag flying high as if to tell you, “This is safe harbor.” I am free of the pirates and brigands stealing and smuggling regret into your treasure chest; you know, the one where you keep your heart at its best: under lock and key and buried deep, sunken in the sand at the bottom of your tide-like movements.

Let me surface this part of you. Crack the lock and let it all fly out like lead balls from a battery of muskets until there’s nothing left but peace treaties and a cure for you loneliness disease.

I am nothing but a simple hand, a reach down into the salty waves to pull you out of the black waters of a tempestuous sea. I am not here to clean you up but merely elevate you above the waves so you can see the damage your ship has done to me. My battered hull is from years of experience saving those who have locked up their chest and thrown away the key. Only you can unearth the treasure, baby. Only you posses that skeleton key.

Feels like I Got Run Over by a Red Editing Pen.

Edit my life

I should have listened…
I should have listened to my best friend’s father
when he told me, with great love and affection,
“You can’t rely on people too much…
Eventually, they’re going to fail you.”
I have seen my fair share of failures from people
through these 28 years and
there are definitely nights when I tumble around
memories of those kinds of lessons learned
in my mind
like shoes left alone in a dryer.
They kick the inside of my skull like
petulant children wanting out of their rooms
because I have not yet muster the courage
to let them go
They are grounded.

I just wish I could say the same for myself.
Then maybe I could stop having dreams
that figure out my problems faster than my
mind does at its waking speed
assisted with pharmaceutical concentration tablets.
I have a prescription for them, I swear.
Obtained them legally for a treatment of my
many ill diagnoses.
I’m a mess.

And I have been a mess for longer than I ever dreamed possible
My mom always told me it takes at least half the time
you were with someone to get over the fact that they’re gone.
Well, Ma, it’s been over that period of time and part of me
still misses part of her that’s gone
At least now I can think about her with as level a head
as I can generally muster,
marching through these cold months,
waking up alone, in a cold room in a warm bed
the polarization of these simultaneous events
is enough to give me a long pause and think
about my eventual rising from my mattress and pillows,
emerging from underneath my comforters quilted by my own mother
and, some mornings, I battle the dark demons
of a depressive state
weighing all my options on whether or not I want to go to work that day.

I have only failed once because I have learned the art
of talking to myself and the effect of music
to bring my spirit back to the edge.
A friend turned me on to the Gaslight Anthem’s “Handwritten”
and It’s Brian Fallon’s guitar
that usually sinks hooks into my deadweight body
then pulls me to my feet to begin the day.

Because I can’t rely on people anymore, not really.
And I don’t think I made that decision consciously,
there’s a surge of electricity that courses through my every cell
throughout my body every time I think about social interaction.
So, while everyone is getting into relationships,
engaged, married
I’m watching old TV shows that remind me that there may be
hope in my story yet.
And in my dreams I am just a punk kid who runs from his friend
when things change.
I learned that from my subconscious today and upon waking
I reached a moment of clarity I had not seen for at least 9 months
and I’m hoping it’s the start of a better path than I’ve been walking.

I’ve been alone. A lot.
I learn my lessons the hard way.
My head must go through the brick wall
before I realize it is solid and I must burn coil marks
into my hand
Before I realize the stove cooks food (and my hand), so it must be hot
And telling one person (aside from my therapist)
all the thoughts I have and all the things that scare me,
then have that person excise themselves from your life
like a new body part ripped from its grafting site,
tearing the stitches from the skin of which it had been a part of
for over a year and a half…
Leaves a lot of wounds and, eventually, scars
And so I haven’t spoken much to anyone,
I don’t leave my apartment much
and I battle with depression like the Southern states
deal with bouts of ice.
I shut down sometimes.

And there’s so much I want to do that I can’t.
I feel like my strength has left me completely.
Hello, my name is complacency.