“Did you dig up the empty treasure chest? Did you get what you were wishing for?”
“Did you dig up the empty treasure chest? Did you get what you were wishing for?”
A short piece today, The blog is going to get pretty experimental for a while, I want to try some new things as you’ve seen with Pollyanna + now Snake Charmer Snake Eater, I’m going to put some more effort into the blog and try to single out my audience. I’ve been just writing shit aimlessly for years now + it is high time that I get something more manageable and focused figured out. Also, welcome back to the YouTube channel as of like… tomorrow or something.
I’ve climbed out of my own coffin and I’m back to swing for keeps.
I feel a bit warmer all over than I used to. My fingers aren’t shaking independently from the rest of me anymore, which is nice. I can breathe in a full set of lungs now a days which hasn’t happened since I was roaring a chorus in New York City. My mind is clear and I am focused, yet I would still stab someone in the chest to get a guilt free puff of nicotine.
Isn’t it funny how powerless we can feel sometimes? At the hands of such silly things like plants and people.
I’ve been a hard headed lad for as long as I can remember and I have had a penchant for finding new ways to strengthen my own resolve.
I have more willpower within my soul than five men do together. Which is a wonderful attribute to include in my invisible societal resume, but that also means when I have a break down or when I fail it wasn’t because I was under the influence of something else. It was a direct result of a choice I made consciously. Because I am so hard headed and my will is my determinant factor in all scenarios, it can really cause some damage to my mind when I know I screw up, which, let me tell you, is often.
If I make a choice it is rarely influenced by something other than my own decision. So when I choose something that kills me inside I have to live with it and accept it regardless of the outcome. That really sucks, cause I don’t like consequences for things.
Like turning down a girl I really liked because I didn’t have time for her.
Like turning down a job that would give me good money because it would kill my time.
Like staying somewhere I don’t need to stay just to force myself into a break.
Like crawling out of my coffin and waiting around at graveside for someone to come feed me some brain.
We as humans switch back and forth between alive and dead without even knowing it, I think. Obviously not truly. Most of us only die once. Unless you’re Eminem but we likely aren’t going to be that lucky. We have one shot at life and on the way to the great beyond we will switch back and forth between feeling the warmth of a brand new day and feeling the cold claws of the earth. Our choices dictate everything in this life. Our reactions are our own. If we are upset because of an outside occurrence, it is because we allow ourselves to be.
If I am angry at a coworker for how they behave or act, it is because I allow myself to care enough about how they can affect me.
In this moments I think we slowly kill our spirit, our willpower, our hope, our soul. I’m by no means admitting defeat and saying that we should give in to negativity, which is not my intention. What I am saying instead is that perhaps we could watch our own corpses bounce back and forth between warm and cold and stay warm for a while longer.
We could use out powerful will to stay happy for a few more seconds, to stay calm, to breathe in deep, to smell the flowers that are growing out of our chests every once and a while.
After all, the coffins we are building for ourselves are going to get pretty damn hard to fit inside of if we let our ego grow any more.
Last year I had the chance to spend time all over the country. I went to Oregon, to Georgia, Kansas and Alabama. I experienced so many beautiful things and I learned so much. I wish that I had been in a better place on those trips. I’m not saying they were a waste, but I am saying that I didn’t use all of my time available while I was there.
I know that because I ran out of sandalwood oil.
See, I have these little bottles of fragrance oil that I use after I smoke or before I go to work etc. Just to make sure I don’t actually smell like I spend all of my time at a desk in a den with two pups. On my trip to AL/GA/KS, I spent all of my oil because I was stressed. In OR I used it every thirty minutes to keep my cool or to remember all the lessons and the things I try to teach myself and those around me. If you have been following my blog for any amount of time you know that I often lose sight of things. I think a part of that stems from my levels of “Oh shit I have so much to do today/thisweek/thismonth/thislifetime etc.”
It is pretty easy to lose your grasp on things, even if they are sacred to you. The last blog post was about sacred things, and monsters. I focused more on the latter and didn’t really get to the meat of how I’ve been feeling lately. My birthday is right around the corner and I take a lot of time at the end of March to look at my life + who I am. Am I happy with who I’m becoming?
Not for most of last year, no.
That’s because I spent all of my oil on things I didn’t need to worry about. I used it every time I was even a tiny bit stressed. When big things came around I was helpless to them. All I could do to survive was cling to an empty bottle and watch the world around me.
The reason I brought up those trips is because they were the two moments last year when my life changed the most dramatically. My best friend was married in OR and I met one of my oldest friends for the first time in AL. Those were huge moments that affected me dramatically. Good things and bad things came from them both, due to various situations. No, don’t get the idea that my best friend getting married was bad, it was magical. His wife his beautiful inside and out and seeing them in love gives me immeasurable hope for my own life and the future of all of us.
I thought about my business and the way I write and work in AL, I considered that I potentially do too much. I’m a guy who likes organization. Even if it is messy, I know where all of my projects stand and I know what I need to do to accomplish them. I might get a bit delayed, but my work is never lost on me. I know what and where I need to put in effort. That isn’t always said for my personal relationships.
In OR I sat outside the trailer on my last day and had a heart to heart with two friends where we spoke on relationships and love, what it meant to grow and how we were all changing as time passed. We talked about drama and about life for a long time around a dying camp fire. I went to sleep that night full of peace.
The next day on the drive home I was still present, but distracted. I wasn’t giving attention where I needed it. Instinctively I reached for my bottle of oil.
It was empty.
So I continued going on, still smelling the familiar stink of stress loft around my sinuses.
We returned and continued life, things went up and went down and I lost control of my relationships outside of my circle of friends. I was slipping. There was nothing inside of my mind stopping me from snapping or getting on peoples asses for silly things. I felt that anger and tension vividly in my day to day life.
Eventually it became clear to me that I needed to purchase a new bottle of oil. I needed an escape. The trip to KS/AL/GA was much the same. I was so impacted from meeting my friend that my mind was in the clouds for the following days. I desperately needed oil then. I needed to be brought back to the real world.
I can’t tell you what has happened from then till now, but I realized that I wasn’t invested in anything other than my own projects and matters. That’s so wack. I build this whole thing based on the happiness and importance of others, so I can’t give up on them.
We will run into many monsters, but our blessings outnumber them. I was reminded last month that I have a place to live, food to eat, friends who love me, family who would go to the end of the earth for me. I have so many things. Honestly, I have everything that I could need. I take that for granted so frequently, all these hot spots that I can pull oil from.
So I sunk my teeth in. I wedged myself into those blessings and remembered.
How we smell is important, but it isn’t everything. Oil won’t always sustain us, but it will cover up our foul scent until we can manage to get things under control.
Don’t worry if your bottle is empty, I’m sure that you can wash your broken heart and your various hurts inside the pools of others. Don’t hide your stains. Let them show. Don’t cover them with oils and fragrances. Wounds smell so terrible so that we will attend to them and clean them. Not so that we can cover them up.
If your oil bottle is empty today, toss it out, find a new one if you need, but don’t use it as a mask to cover the hurt you might be feeling. Get somewhere to think and figure out the next step. Find bandages in friendship, find cleaning solution in your job or your hobbies, find what you need to heal…
And scrub the layers of sandalwood from your skin.
Make sure to keep your eyes on www.linmtba.com + my social media profiles to see all the cool shit I’m gonna be giving you for my birthday.
This one is sloppy and seems unfinished, originally I had intended it to be a spoken word poem which accounts for the awkward metering, but as I sat on it I grew impatient and decided to put it here. It isn’t a traditional poem from me, but the message it sends is something I hold dear to myself. Something that I think many people, especially men in my generation, need to fight against.
@alvatobiasbooks has info about upcoming information on books, poetry, blog posts and all of the other crazy creative stuff I’m getting up to!
This poem was written a long time before I decided that I would post it, sometimes when I write stuff I want to hold on to it for one reason or another. A reminder, perhaps, to make sure I stay true to myself. I think its a good time to post this one, the same can be said for the rest of them this month. I want to use this time to exorcise some demons before the year gets into full swing. I don’t want to carry corpses into 2017.
Follow @alvatobiasbooks on Facebook + Twitter for more poetry, as well as neat-o updates on projects I’m working on!
This is the last post in this series as we move into December, I hope you guys have enjoyed reading about it all damn day! (rip.) Like I said, next month will be much more stable, much more insightful, and I will be talking about some really personal stuff. For more info, follow my Twitter + Facebook. Link is at the bottom of the post. I love you guys.
In the 52nd episode of HIMYM, Ted brings a new girl that he is dating to the group and they point out that she has a big flaw. That she talks A LOT. This shatters the illusion for Ted and then in turn he brings up a big flaw that Lily has, which is chewing loudly. By the end of the episode the group begins arguing about each of their flaws, Ted being the guy who corrects everyone else, Barney having a handful of flaws, not paying attention, using an annoying high voice, using catch phrases. Robin over-using the word literally, and Marshall, perhaps the most important part of the episode, being that sings nonsense. The parts of this episode that weren’t about the flaws were padded with the news that Marshall’s results from the bar exam were in and he lost his password, so he didn’t know whether or not he would actually be a lawyer. By the end, Robin brings up a nonsense phrase that Marshall sang for hours that got stuck in everyone’s heads. It is revealed that the phrase was the password and Marshall logs on to find out that he passed the exam and was a lawyer in New York City.
This episode and this blog post fell at what I think would be the correct time. I personally spend a lot of time taking into account the flaws of those around me. Someone is too arrogant, too selfish, they make everything about money, they interrupt my sleeping because they want to talk about something useless, they make their hair and nails a priority over everything else in their lives, I could go on, but this is about self reflection. Not about pointing out the speck of dust in everyone else.
There are a couple things I could talk about here, which will pull this blog post a bit longer than usual, I hope you’ll bear with me.
First, I have a friend who has a great heart. Although he is still pretty immature, he means well. When things are good, he is great, when they are bad, he will be there for you. He stands by his word and I really respect that, but he has a knack for going a bit too far with jokes and comments at times. We could be having a normal conversation and he will spit out some joke about something irrelevant that he tries to loophole through to the conversation and nine times out of ten, it’s just offensive. We could be playing a practical joke on a friend and when most of us are finished, he amps the joke up and continues setting traps or over-doing it in some other way. It’s frustrating, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good person. I think that at times, he just takes things farther than they need to go and that is something that he needs to work on.
Second, myself. The other day at the restaurant I was speaking with one of my coworkers about a man at a table she had. This man was much older, and was a drunk. He was saying some inappropriate things about her to her face and it frustrated her, as it should. I had dealt with the same man a few times before and it resulted in me no longer serving him alcohol at any place where I work. It is something that I don’t believe I can do on the grounds that as a bartender, I need to stop people from over-drinking. The man comes into the restaurant plastered drunk as it is, I just don’t think he needs any more.
Still, that is overshadowed by my history with him. I have gotten in this man’s face on two occasions. Both of them involved women coworkers and his lewd comments involving them. I was passing by their table the first time, delivering drinks to another table of mine and he said something about taking the pants off of a friend of mine. And he went into further detail which I will not repeat here.
I turned around and called him on the things he was saying and let him know that he wasn’t welcome in the restaurant if he continued to say those things. After some prodding from another guest at the table, he apologized to me and was told to apologize to my friend at work. The second time I saw him was in a similar setting. I was setting a drink down at their table and he made a crude joke about bedding another girl who I have worked with for years, and asked me how easy she was. Along with a handful of other things that again, I won’t repeat here. I had heard enough. The man was obviously drunk, his face flushed and his words were slurred to an extreme level. I then told him, much more forcefully than I had intended, that if he said anything like that again and I heard him, I would personally take him out to the parking lot and make him eat those words. Not my greatest moment, sure. I could have handled the situation with much more class. A few days after that I told him when he came in and tried to enter my bar and make his own drinks that he was no longer allowed to drink at any place that I work. I would no longer serve him alcohol anywhere in town.
These moments bring us to the other day, this man had said things to a coworker, she handled it appropriately, and I told her some stories about the situation between him and me. She then got all kinds of flustered about something and told me…
“I know how to do my job.”
That didn’t make a lot of sense to me, I wasn’t undermining her position or anything of the sort, but in a way it shed some light on myself. There have been times when I don’t think about the words out of my mouth and I find myself making crude or off color jokes, not understanding how they will sound. I have said many inappropriate things and I realized that day that I don’t get an excuse. I am not allowed to pretend to police others in that scenario if I am not policing myself. I must always hold who I am accountable for the things that I do and the things that I say I don’t approve of.
Granted, I don’t say things with the intention of making friends or strangers uncomfortable, and I will do my best to never make a crude and disrespectful joke. Still, sometimes I slip and that is something we all have to learn how to accept. We are not perfect, we should always remember that we exist as masterpieces in the making and sometimes it takes time to iron out all of the small bumps in our personalities.
I awoke the morning that I wrote this after my apartment had been decorated for Christmas and I was feeling extra holiday cheer, early in the morning after having gone to bed much sooner than I would have liked and I exited my bedroom to find one of my roommates sitting on the couch. I could tell when I walked in that he was frustrated, and I knew why. A practical joke was played on him that went too far. I thought about that, and about how we all have our flaws, but still love one another despite them.
With that sentiment I stepped outside for a cigarette and felt the cold wind whipping at my cheeks, blowing the first snow of the season into my little home town. I remembered something then that I often tell myself.
Allow time to grow. You are not a magic stalk that will grow overnight. There will be times you fail, there will be flaws you hold, and there will be times in which you need more water than you do sunlight.
Sometimes, I think we should recite that to ourselves and remember, we are all flawed. So let’s take the moments we do things right and use them to be water to someone else.
Before I launch into the new series I want to address something so that no questions find themselves within my inboxes. Given my penchant for speaking about suicide and how often I put hints and clues to things in my work, I can safely assume that someone reading this is going to panic when they see that the logo for this year is a noose and that the dark naming schemes and topics about the upcoming blogs are me hinting that I want to kill myself. No. That is not and never will be the case. This is a creative medium, and I don’t want you to get all weird about it. Just witness it for what it is and don’t be a dick head about it.
I just want to part with my hometown the only way I know how to part with something, with words and feelings so real that it rips a part of me out and drops it onto the ground for everyone to see. Isn’t that why you came here to begin with?
Thank you for supporting me, through the last three years and going into the fourth, the message has not changed and it will not change any time soon. As always, my friends…
Life is not Meant to be Awful.
This year will be the parting song that I will sing to a city that has been many things to me. It has been a safe haven to hide in when the world is too scary. It has been a place where I have run from myself within. A place that has both brought me to the peaks of mountains and has knocked me off of those same summits. I have fallen in love in this place, I have fallen in love with this place, I have written so many stories in the dirt around my childhood home and I have written so many more in the messages I’ve sent to those that live here. Our Town of Gallows is not perfect, but it is a good start. For all the good it has given me, there has still been a lot of bad, yet I was stuck hanging around no matter how badly I wanted to leave. Still, what is life without the setbacks that add so much to our own stories?
With this year and many of the ones before it I have wondered about my hometown, it has existed as an enigma to myself and many others. Living in an economic bubble, Elko sits in a space between danger and boredom. The city itself, pumped full of Native American and Cowboy stories that are told around the clinking sounds of whiskey glasses in any one of our many bars. Kept afloat by the power of the mining industry and to many, is the only reason it has survived for so long where it sits.
I am one of a generation of kids who were born here and have lived out a large portion, if not all of their lives here. We know of all of the different party locations, we have held secrets about this town that only we thought that we knew. “The Spot” was a place that I was introduced to the year after I graduated by a guy named Tony, tucked away by the river there was a small pool where kids like myself would gather. You and a couple friends would park on the road in the middle of night and leg it over tall stalks that were just poorly managed weeds. On the other side of the pesky barrier there you could find a small pool where the river tried to run away from itself but couldn’t quite make it. Stuck to stay spinning in its corner until the water all dries up and the world changes into something different.
A teacher at Elko High School (along with many others) used to talk about how Elko was a black hole. He had grown that idea from the fact that tons of people begged to leave, would make every attempt to do so and still find their path leading them back to the safety of our little bubble. I definitely understand what he meant by his statement, but to be honest I think Elko is a little less black-hole and a little more The Spot. Because those people in my own life who have tried as hard as they could to run away to only be dragged back never really went that far to begin with. They just stayed spiraling, like me, right outside the main body of the river. Forever cursed to spin in circles and be lost.
Of course, that’s a pretty dark mindset to hear, especially on this blog. That is however, how this year will likely be. There are many blog posts coming your way where I finally pick up the things that I have seen broken in my city and call it out for what it has become.
A Town of Gallows.
So, Elko, I have decided that there are a few things that we need to discuss. I have loved living here for much of my life. I have begged to move out of Elko for other parts of it. Still, I find myself sitting here in the same old city, writing the same old books, doing the same old things I always do. When it really set in that I haven’t packed up and left I realized what I needed to write about more than anything.
How about the fact that Elko rests in the least productive state in all of the union when it comes to education. Nevada ranks last (or second to last, according to the most recent data) in its education rankings. Which means, by countrywide standards we are pumping the money from mining into something other than our children, which turns around to bite us in the ass when those children leave forever and don’t return because they didn’t ever feel like they were being taught here.
Don’t misunderstand me, however, Elko has some of the best teachers I have ever met. Two of which I owe this whole business to, indirectly.
Then there is the stigma in Elko about “this town” which is something I have never wanted to embrace.
“This town is full off…”
You can go ahead and fill in the blanks. Full of liars, cheaters, nasty women, self-indulgent pricks, whatever.
I’ve always hated when my peers would say something like this because I loved Elko, I still do. This place is my home and I will never forget that. However, because it is my home, I must hold it to a certain standard. I am pressed to call it out when it lets bullshit thrive and boy, do I have a years’ worth of bullshit to talk about.
I have been apprehensive about speaking on this subject. There are so many people who are in love with Elko and I don’t want to take that from them, but we need to look around us you guys. There is a lot going on that we can’t seem to get around because we are blinded by our own love or hate for the place we grew up.
I grew up here, cuddled within the arms of my mother who always inspired me to work and to be brave and to never let anyone in the world hold me back. To always pursue the highest and most important things to me.
Through years of practice I have found out how to do that and I have put that practice into action. I have stood up and fought against bullshit whenever I saw it. I have put my heart on the dirt and I have watched as people have openly stomped upon it. I have logged on to social media day in and day out to see people actively getting on a social forum to slander one another. I have seen my own generation so involved in each other’s business that they had forgotten that they had their own lives to live. I have watched relationships fall to pieces from behind a restaurant bar. I have watched businesses that employed amazing people fail because owners couldn’t manage their funding. I have watched men and women get arrested for things I could never see those men and women doing. I have watched the people in this city beat and batter each other all day, and when the dinner bell finally rings they get up, dust each other off and sit down for dinner.
Their noses and cheekbones bruised and broken, their blood red as their passion. Their skin as blue as the Nevada skies, truly taking the term “battle born” to heart, and I have watched as the bruising around their eyes turned black as the hopes and dreams they once held for their own futures turned to sour anger. Even the good ones, the best ones, have turned on their friends and families because we are a small town that isn’t so small anymore. Yet we still behave like no one in the world can see us.
I grew up in Elko, with a heart and a mind that were full of passion and hope for the place in which I lived. I had set goals to reach for that would put Elko on the map. That would make this place famous because of the things I would do with my life. When I was younger, I was obsessed with this idea of people remembering where I grew up, and here I am. Years later, and the aspirations of that bright young mind have grown old and tired because above all that I see in Elko, out of all the good and the bad that I witness day to day, I can see one thing above all the rest.
The murky grey fog that comes when the bright minds are given new life. When a new project is announced by a boy in middle school because he wants to be a scientist. When a new artist emerges within the guidelines of our city, when a young girl decides to do something for the town and gets pushed back. I see the fog roll in, masking up all of these brilliant bright people with a cloud that darkens their souls and with that cloud comes the good ol’ city of Elko, est. pop. 20,279 strong, and they roll in with the fog and roll out with the fog. When it clears, not everyone knows what happens, but there are a few of us that see it even when we participate.
When that fog rolls out we can see those bright lights hanging from the lamp posts by homemade rope and packaging twine. Some stuck in the sky swinging from the Christmas garland that has been hanging on our street lamps for fifteen years.
And I see every one of those lights burning out slowly, until they get darker than death itself.
My latest book Mean Shadows is up for pre-order right now at www.linmtba.com (Released on Dec. 25th)
Go pick up a copy for yourself! 🙂