Love the Suck (and other lessons on his birthday)

Sometimes the universe does you a favor. It puts you in the right place, at the right time, for something good to happen. And if you’re lucky, you realize it when it happens. It’s like a big cosmic combo lock has just clicked into place.

Sometimes we don’t realize it until after the fact, but that’s okay too. It’s still special in retrospect as we look back. I hope you know that feeling, and if you don’t, I hope you feel it some day, because it’s really an awesome feeling.

I’ve felt it a few times, usually when the universe puts a certain person in my life who’s meant to be there. A friend, a lover, a teacher or mentor (or someone I can teach or help), maybe an animal. I’ve even felt it with some of you who are now reading.

One of the first times I felt the universe click into place was when I met my college boyfriend, “M.” I felt it again ten years later when he and I reconnected as friends. You may remember — I wrote about M in my post “The Song Remembers When” last year to wish him a happy birthday.

Today is M’s birthday again, and since so many of you were intrigued by him, I thought I would share him again with you. This time, in his own words.

See, because I have a feeling the universe does everyone a favor when it puts M in their lives. M is a natural teacher and guide, and I’m convinced he has a very old and wise soul. The following are a few lessons M has taught me through the years, and now, for his birthday, I pass them on to you.

These are his words from emails and messages–even a book inscription. While M knows I was going to share some of his words, he doesn’t know which words. (How is that for trust, huh?) I hope this is a nice birthday surprise for M, and I hope his words help you some day, as they have helped me.

As you’re reading, listen for the click . . . that’s the sound of the universe clicking into place. That’s the sound of the universe doing you a favor.

***

Music can transform and heal a soul

“In 1988 or ’89 I attended the Atlanta Jazz Fest in Piedmont Park and got to see Joe Satriani. I’m still stunned, I swear. He’d had a tragedy of some sort and it was a surprise that he played. He came on unexpectedly and they kind of crammed him in to the show. I don’t remember the name of the song–and haven’t heard it since–but it was wrenching as I watched a musical innovative god surrender in front of 2000 people. I was up front stage right and watched him weep as he played. He was the only man on the planet for those 15 minutes; he existed for that song at that time. If I get to face God ever I will thank Him for that time. It sounds a little melodramatic but it is truth.”

[In the one-in-a-million chance that you know which song Satriani performed that day, please (pretty please?) leave me a comment or email me at runningonsober@gmail.com - thank you!]

***

Photo via the very lovely MamaMickTerry (thanks Michelle!)

Photo via the very lovely MamaMickTerry (thanks Michelle!)

 Flowers can transform and heal a room

“I like flowers a lot. In any room just one flower changes everything. The energy, the feeling, the emotion of any place is changed instantly by one single flower. It’s awesome. Go buy some flowers for your house today and see if it’s not true.”

***

Books are meant to be loved, and to love a book means to give it away

“I love used books and I love what they’re all about. Used books live and survive on the edge just as we do. It’s so easy for a book to be read and thrown in the trash, but a used book is very special just for the mere fact that it is used. . . . It was loved or acknowledged, and for a moment it was read and enjoyed, and, most importantly, it has been shared.

‘Someone was awe-stricken enough to give this book away. I too was awe-stricken with its content, and I give it to you. I hope that you love it enough to give it away. Happy Birthday!”

[The book was a collection of Walt Whitman poetry. While I haven't been willing to give away the book, yet, at least I loved the lesson enough to give it to you.]

via wiki commons, CC BY 2.0

Timeless Books via wiki commons, CC BY 2.0

***

You can benefit from pain; it’s all about perspective

“If I take time away from deadlifting, then the first session back, my hands burn and hurt as the callouses thicken and I get stronger. My hands hurt but I know they’re getting better and I’m benefitting from the pain. I’m getting safer because of the injury not to be hurt again. It’s going to be okay, even if it’s not a good day, even if things don’t go well. It’s hard to see past pain sometimes as they say. . . . remember that it’s all about perspective sometimes.”

***

Wood never dies; it lives on through its projects

“I never got too far into conventional art, although now I’m excited at the thought. I find art in carpentry and in bikes.

‘My daddy was a ruthlessly hard man. . . . his only peace was in the perfection that he created in his wood work. I remember being five or six and him having me close my eyes and feel planks of wood to identify species and different parts of the tree so that grain patterns on cabinet faces would match up. He was obsessive about his creations, I think hoping that someone would “understand” and “get it” through his work just as an artist. He told me that wood never dies, and that anything made from it allows the tree that it came from to live as if it were never cut. . . . To this day I feel the intentions of old-school carpenters.

‘Next time you are in an old house, close your eyes and run your hands down the door casing or the joints on the wainscoting or cabinets. The art is what you don’t see — in the chatters and tiny hammer dimples.”

Thanks again to beautiful Michelle

Thanks again to the beautiful Michelle of MamaMickTerry

***

Life is short; love the suck

this body
holding me
reminding me that I am not alone
this body makes me feel eternal
all this pain is an illusion

[Lyrics from Tool's "Parabol" and "Parabola." M introduced me to their life-changing music, and explained:]

“. . . meaning to me that there is joy and sweet celebration in every breath, especially at the last. Our bodies are frail, and we as spirits that inhabit them are fickle and fallable. We are preoccupied with everything in the world except enjoying every aspect of our being. Until you see someone die and look in their eyes, see them there and then realize that they are just gone, we will always take for granted our lives. This is all very hard to convey. I love every day even the shitty ones, and I love the suck just as much as the smooth sailing. I have been in a terrible way as of late but I still love it. . . all ups and downs should be celebrated. That’s enough. Goodnight beautiful. I love you.”

***

You can be stupid and brilliant at the same time

“Damn I was stupid and brilliant. If I had not let you go, you would not be who you are, and we would not be here having this friendship.”

***

 

Happy Birthday, M. You’re beautiful. I love you. And, like wood, love never dies either.

 

Joe Satriani, “Always With Me, Always With You

So You Want to Quit Drinking

so you want to quit drinking
after Bukowski

so you want to quit drinking
give up the bottle
clean up
dry up
grow up

so you’re finally ready
to quit waking up
in strange places
with spit
on your face
vomit
in your hair
glass
in your hands
asphalt
in your knees

oh I bet you really made an
ass of yourself
this time.
did you fuck up
royally?
fall off the wagon?
fall off your bar stool?
fall off the karaoke stage?

did you flash the bartender
kiss a woman
grope a man?
did you fuck a stranger
flip a cop the bird
throw up on a neighbor’s lawn?
did you scream at your mother
slap your kid
kick your cat?
did you drunk dial your ex
walk out on the tab
crash your best friend’s car?
did you lose your wallet
your keys
your dog
your mind?
did you pick up a gun or a razor
a bottle of pills
a pen to write your last goodbyes?

no?
none of that?
well maybe it didn’t happen.
not like that.
or
maybe it did.
or maybe it will
next time.
how
the hell do you
know?

ah.
so that’s why you’re
ready
to
quit
drinking.
you’re tired
of no longer being in
control of your actions.
tired
of being a slave
to the demons in your head.
tired
of running from yourself
only to find out you
cannot
ever
out
run
yourself.

you can lose yourself
oh sure.
you can go mad,
give in,
give up.
but why would you want
to do that?

why let them win?

they
will, you know,
if you let them.
the demons in your head.
the fat
pasty
booze execs
their
slick suits
and
slick hair
and
slicker words.
the smug
housewives
sipping their
wine slushies
whispering
over their
pee-no-gree
gossiping about
your
demise.
“oh poor dear.
she was so fragile.
bless her heart.
what will become of the children?”

fuck ‘em.

if
you give in,
they win.
and there’s always
going to be a
they.

fuck ‘em all.

your
demons?
they live in
the past, babe,
this is the now
the n. o. w.
your demons aren’t here
they’re way back there.

why
go
back?

all
those nights,
all
those bottles,
all
those black-outs and hangovers,
all
those times you wanted to die?

newsflash, baby.

you’re
still
here.

tougher.
stronger.
badder.

somehow you’ve had more
than your share of second
chances.

you should be dead.
I don’t know why
you’ve been spared.
like me,
you’ve survived
a thousand deaths.
another
laughing
heart,
another
modern
Lazarus,
another
marvelous
god.

maybe those gods got plans
for you baby.
maybe it’s
one big cosmic
horse race in the sky.
maybe this is your race to lose
baby.

you really are marvelous you know
the gods wait to delight in you
maybe they like you
maybe you’re entertaining
maybe you make them laugh
or maybe they just feel sorry for you
laying on the bathroom floor
beside that other god.
maybe you remind them of themselves
the gods were young and crazy once too
dancing on tables and flashing strangers
gods gone wild
before they too
cleaned up
dried up
grew up

oh
how the gods love fools and drunks
but honey you don’t have to be a drunk
you can just be a fool
or
even better
be the one who fools them all
they’ll never see you coming.

oh
there will be days you want
to fall back.
there’s no help for that.
but don’t fall.
save those feelings
send them to that space
that place in the heart
that will never be filled.

we can meet in that space.
and
instead of waiting
instead of drinking
we will release the krakens.

what?
you thought I really had a
bluebird in my heart?
no baby,
I have a fucking kraken in mine.
and so do you.
instead of drinking
we’ll release the krakens
and laugh in delight
and smoke our cigars
and we will make it through
this day.

so
you really want to quit drinking?

put down the bottle.
do not pick it up again.
ever.

pick up the pen.
do not put it down again.
ever.

and
when they come calling,
which they will
for a while,
you know what to do.
let them keep their
bluebirds -
you
release your kraken,
baby.

nobody
can save you but yourself
,
true.
but a kraken never hurt either.

now
off you go baby . . .
remember,
bottle, no.
pen, yes.
and write write write.
write it all
let it come out of
your soul like a rocket

c’mon baby, you want to quit drinking?
ain’t nothing to it but to
do it!
do it!

then get up tomorrow
and do it again.
then the next
and the next
and the next day again.

but you have to start
some day.
how about today?
this day,
this
one day.
that’s all there is.
you can’t go backward.
you can’t go forward.
n. o. w. is what you got.
it may not be much,
today,
but it’s enough.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

 

~~~

Inspired in part by Bukowski’s:
So You Want to Be a Writer,” “Another Comeback,” “The Laughing Heart,” “No Help For That,” “The Bluebird,” “Nobody But You.”

 

Life in 6 Songs – Final Thoughts and Special Playlist

Hi everyone, are you missing Life in 6 Songs terribly yet? If so, don’t worry, we have a very special surprise playlist for you later in the post. Also, we have the Life in 6 Songs page where every volume is listed, so come visit anytime you’d like.

I mentioned before that I had some trivia and fun stats for you — so let’s take one final look back. . . .

via wiki commons

Lots and lots and lots of songs . . . via wiki commons

Show me the numbers:

  • 23 volumes; 51 playlists; 358 songs; 1156 comments; and 877 post likes over the course of six months.

Most “liked” (and most “commented on”) post?

  • Volume 3 with Aussa and Nicole (85 likes, 175 comments). The entire world is in love with these two ladies, and no wonder: they’re funny, talented and gorgeous! And they both had achingly honest playlists. If you missed that volume, be sure to check it out.  *** AND Aussa was just published on Cosmopolitan — congrats, Aussa!

First song in ABC order?

“A Pirate Looks at Forty” by Jimmy Buffett (Bob)

Last song in ABC order?

“Ziggy Stardust” by David Bowie (Karen)

First artists in ABC order?

  • 4 Non Blondes (Aussa)
  • ABBA (Kristen)

Last artist in ABC order?

Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Nadia)

Longest song titles?

  • “Walking In The Great Shining Path of Monster Trucks” by Clutch (9 words; 51 characters), (Goldfish)
  • “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” LCD Soundsystem (10 words, 48 characters), (Gus)

Shortest song title?

  • “Say” by John Mayer (Michelle)
  • “TNT” by AC/DC (Ned)

What band/singer got new fans?

Elbow (Mary) and Templeton Thompson (Karen). “Why have I never heard of them?!” was a popular response.

What songs got a lot of love?

“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong and “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel were both very popular with readers when featured by Archita and Matticus in Volume 19.

Notable Snubs?

Maybe it’s just me, but I was surprised none of these artists made any playlists:

  • Elvis Presley
  • Michael Jackson
  • Led Zeppelin
  • The Who
  • Prince
  • Stevie Wonder
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Doors
  • Neil Young
  • Johnny Cash
  • Otis Redding (Michelle included Otis in Vol. 1, yay! I’m glad Otis wasn’t snubbed afterall!)
  • Leonard Cohen and Adele were almost snubbed until Lunatique included “Anthem” and Dylan included “Someone Like You” in the participation event

What surprised me even more?

“The Reason” by Hoobastank was included TWICE (by Nicole and Graham)

Interesting tidbit:

Nirvana was included only twice (“Lake of Fire,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) — and both times in the same volume by different guests (Sheena and Unpickled, Volume 5)

Other interesting tidbits:

  • Musical included: “My Fair Lady” (Michele)
  • Muppets included: “Rainbow Connection” (Christy)
  • Disney included: “When You Wish Upon a Star” (Michele)
  • Classical included: Christy, Laurie (both Beethoven), Teresa (Mozart), NBI (Pachelbel)
  • Instrumental included: Laurie, PurpleShade, Guap and Archita
  • Holiday music included by: Bob and Nicole

Lots of global music included:

  • French, Edith Piaf (Goldfish)
  • Iceland, Sigur Ros (Kristen and Paul)
  • Iceland, Sólstafir (Lunatique)
  • Israel, Asaf Avidan (NBI)
  • Italy, Eros Ramazzotti (NBI) and Pavarotti (Paul)
  • India, A.R. Rahman (Laurie)
  • Russia, Louna (NBI)
  • Spanish/Latin Music, Selena (Karen)
  • Uruguay, No Te Va Gustar (Paul)
  • Germany, Vader Abraham (Lunatique)
  • Sweden, Anne Sofie Von Otter, (Dylan)

What song was repeated the most?

“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. It was included by three guests (Jennie, Kristen and Deanna) — and it was also the only Bob Marley song selected.

Other songs repeated by guests:

  • “Best Day of My Life,” American Authors by Hippie and Hook (both as song 6)
  • “Only the Good Die Young,” Billy Joel by Josie and Teresa (both as song 1)
  • “The Reason,” Hoobastank by Nicole and Graham
  • “Star Wars Theme,” John Williams by Gus and Ned
  • “Breathe me,” Sia by Aussa and Daile
  • “Birthday,” The Beatles by Kristen and BroJo
  • “Shake it Out,” Florence and the Machine by Aussa and Dylan
  • “What a Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong by Archita and Sheena for Matthew
  • “Great Gig in the Sky,” Pink Floyd Victoria and Lunatique

Which bands/singers were most included?

  • The Beatles were included by ten different guests — and not a single song was repeated, until, like Kristen, BroJo included “Birthday”
  • Pink Floyd was included six times — no repeats (until Lunatique picked “Great Gig in the Sky,” as did Victoria)
  • Billy Joel was also included six times — one song repeated (“Only the Good Die Young”)
  • Florence and the Machine was included by five guests — no repeats (until Dylan picked “shake it out,” as did Aussa)
  • The Clash was included by four different guests — no repeats
  • Tool was included three times — no repeats
  • Alanis Morissette was included three times — no repeats
  • AC/DC three times — no repeats
  • Sia three times — 1 repeat (“Breathe Me”)
  • Lady Antebellum three times — no repeats
  • Genesis three times — no repeats
  • Lots of artists were included twice. If you’d like to geek out over the data with me, you’re welcome to take a look at the entire list of songs and artists (via google sheets)

***

I’ve had a couple of folks ask me about the future of the series. Let’s just say we’re going into hibernation for now. We may bring it back for a special occasion, who knows? You’re more than welcome to use or build on the idea, as I did, when I read about it on NPR.

Again, I must give thanks to The Protojournalist’s NPR challenge: “If you could tell your life story — chronologically, up to now — in six songs, what would they be?”  Check out the original post here, and the 6 Song stories that followed (Part One and Part Two and Part Three).

***

What better way to wrap up the series than with a very special playlist? We asked you each to wrap up your lives in one song–Song Seven–a bonus song, a funeral song, a theme song, whatever you wanted… and these are your bonus songs, all wrapped up into one big playlist.

Enjoy the collection of “Song #7s” and, again, we thank you all.

 

***

And because I just couldn’t stand to see The King snubbed . . .

Elvis has left the building.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

 

Life in 6 Songs: Winners Announced

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Life in 6 Songs special event and series! As we mentioned last week, to thank everyone for an incredible series, we did a couple of random drawings for Amazon gift codes. Jennie’s daughter drew names for us, and without any further ado . . .

Here are the winners:

100_3836

Drawing One:

Two winners from all of our original participants (volumes 2 – 23)

Winner one:

100_3838

 

Winner two:

100_3837

 

Congratulations to both Guap from Guapola and Liz from Living With Autism. Guap joined us in Volume 4 and Liz joined us for Volume 20. Guap and Liz both won a $10 Amazon gift code.

 

***

Drawing Two:

One winner for the Life in 6 Songs link-up post event

Winner and post:

100_3842

 

Congratulations Brother Jon from Brother Jon’s Page! Be sure to check out his post “My Life in Six Songs.” Brother Jon won a $10 Amazon gift code.

 

***

Drawing Three:

One winning duo from comments and memories on the series

Winner and participant mentioned:

100_3840

Congratulations Michele from Mished-Up and Liz from Living With Autism. Michele had a hard time picking one memory from the series, but said in her comment:

It’s very hard to choose certain songs from other people’s playlists..I loved every list, because, while they might not have resonated with me personally, the story and the vulnerability behind posting certainly did. So I just can’t!
HOWEVER….the one hugely different list was Dylan’s, and after reading Liz’s beautiful post [“Dylan’s Life in Song: music and autism“] about his relationship with music and sound, and then being so moved by her attempts at deciphering the deep enigma of why he might have chosen those songs…I was blown away. So I will only make this one comment entry…and it is for Dylan’s list (all great songs, btw!) and the incredible love that I see in Liz’s post.

Michele and Liz each won a $10 Amazon gift code.

***

Special Drawing Four:

Two winners for being phenomenal supporters of the series

100_3844

Winner One: Sheena from Not a Punk Rocker. Sheena was a guest in Volume 5. She also did a special Life in 6 Songs post last week as a letter to her son Matthew on his 18th birthday.

Winner Two: Michele from Mished-Up. Mish joined us in Volume Two. She’s been a constant reader, rocker and supporter through-out the series, and we appreciate you sooo much.

Thank you both for commenting on nearly every single post and for encouraging each participant along the way. You both even visited the blogs of nearly every participant–very kind of you both! Thank you also for both participating in the series too!

Sheena and Michele each won a $15 Itunes gift code.

***

Special thanks to Lunatique and BroJo for sharing their Life in 6 Songs stories this week!

Lunatique from The German Perspective and her post “Life in Six Songs

Brother Jon from Brother Jon’s Page and his post “My Life in Six Songs

Thanks also to LizKaren and Breaking the Yo-Yo for participating earlier on.

***

Congratulations to all of our winners! We will email your gift codes by the end of the week.

We’ll be back in the near future to wrap things up with some series highlights, trivia, and a special playlist. Until then, here’s the birthday playlist featured in Sheena’s “Life in 6 Songs” letter to her son: “Six Songs For Matthew’s 18th.”

Enjoy, and we’ll see you all soon! ~ Christy, Michelle, and Jennie

(Song #2 “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails has explicit language)

 

 

Brother Jon is Three Years Sober!

There’s something pretty special about a guy who dedicates his three-year sobriety anniversary blog post to another person.

I mean, who celebrates three years of sobriety by writing about someone else?

Brother Jon, that’s who.

Meet BroJo ... proving that Mormons (and Sober folks) can be normal people too.

Meet BroJo … proving that “Mormons (and sober folks) can be normal people too.”

I met “BroJo” early last year after his post “Feel the Beat of the Rhythm of the Nineties” was Freshly Pressed. It’s no secret that I’m an 80s music fan (visit my guest post “A Defense of 80s Music” at El Guapo’s if you don’t believe me), but truthfully, I may like 90s music just as much. So I was happy-dancing around like Duckie singing Otis Redding when I discovered another 90’s music kindred! When I found out Jon was sober too–almost two years at that point–well, that made me break out in full Vogue. What? I know I’m not the only one that still loves that dance. Am I?

Fast forward eighteen months and here we are. We’re both still blogging, we’re both still music lovers, and we’re both still sober.

And today Jon celebrates three years of sobriety.

Congratulations on your three years, Jon. And thank you again for dedicating your anniversary post to me.

Seriously, who does that?

Oh yeah, Brother Jon does.

Stop by Jon’s post “Third Year’s a Charm” to say congratulations, and while you’re there, click around and get to know him a little bit (don’t forget his 90s post). You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer, more generous blogger out there.

And, Jon? Three years sobriety calls for a very special happy dance. No, not the Duckie. Not even the Vogue. Nope, three years calls for a very special 90s dance . . .

The Carlton.

***

Don’t forget to check out the latest Life in 6 Songs post. Find out how to join in with your own 6 songs or by sharing a few of your memories from the series (deadline is Monday at 10 am central). You may even win an Amazon gift code! Don’t be shy, we’d really love to hear from you.

***

Have you met BroJo yet? Which music do you prefer: 80s or 90s? Neither? ;) Do you have a special happy dance? A favorite song to dance to?