#009 It's Late, I Know.

hi pals,

it’s late, i know. i’ve been thinking about heaven. i never was a religious person but these last few years have forced a reckoning with the man upstairs. God.

my dad was jewish. my mother is protestant. was and is. something simple. i wasn’t raised on anything. didn’t feel the need to push. i assumed god was something other people needed to hold onto for hope. i had no hope, so i didn’t see the use.

when i was a kid, i played basketball. sunrise to sundown. one night, it rained. my friend richie and i got invited to a local spot that had an indoor basketball hoop. why not? we got inside and there it was. a rim on a rug. i paid no mind. we set it up and played a few games. eventually a nice lady asked us to sit down at the table and join in prayer before eating a dinner together. we were in a church. i didn’t understand.

i know you know this, but i’m an addict. one morning, in my early-twenties, i was coming back up from a downer. i was driving a car. the road was wet. i shuffled through the radio stations and landed on a station that sounded nice. all upbeat songs about hope. i remember feeling good — maybe too good. after a few songs, they cut to break. you’re listening to blah blah blah. christian rock, all the time. oh no. i thought about leaving the station on. the songs were fine. they made me feel better. but i didn’t. i wasn’t ready. i didn’t understand.

i have friends that have had bad experiences with God — well, to be fair, with folks who are haphazardly playing God. good does bad, bad does good. you know, aa is basically christian rock — but uh, without the melodies. whatever. it’s a thing i’ve had to come to an understanding on. i do find myself lucky, tho. God is one thing that i was able to come into on my own. it wasn’t forced. my family didn’t shun me.

still, when i got sober, there was a bit of pressure. at first, i was fine to say that i was surrendering myself to the care of God. generally speaking, there’s not much to lose when you don’t got nothing. but then i got to thinkin’. what the fuck?

you know that movie, hook? yeah, the one with robin williams and dustin hoffman. there’s this scene where peter pan needs to find his happy thought. he can’t fly without it and without flying he can’t save his kids, who were kidnapped by hook. so check this: peter pan’s son, jack, hits a home run and the baseball smacks peter pan right on his head. in this moment, pan finds his happy thought. it’s his kids — his family. soon enough, he’s flying and off to save the day. hook gets eaten by a dead alligator. idk.

k.i.s.s., keep it simple, stupid.

after that article came out — you know, the one. i had a sober person tell me that i wasn’t right with my higher power or sobriety. that no spiritually fit person could have written what i wrote. that i shouldn’t go to the meetings they go to because they felt unsafe. they told me i needed to talk to my higher power and have God set me straight. what the fuck? i’d been sober for about nine months when that whole thing happened. i couldn’t believe i had spent the last nine months sitting in a room with strangers willingly talking about handing my life over to the care and grace of God, just so some shit-head could throw their bag of shit on me? i didn’t understand.

i’ve been thinking about heaven, too. have you noticed how when people talk about going to heaven they talk about doing and seeing and having conversations with everyone they want? well, what if your pal up there in the big blue sky ain’t too keen on catching up? are there duplicates of people — just sort of being the exact person someone else needs them to be?

k.i.s.s.

last christmas, i went home. i found this letter my uncle had sent my dad when he realized my dad was gonna die. in it, he mentions a name i’ve never heard of. i know — rationally — my dad had a life before me — but also, and again i’m doing the em dash thing — what if me and that dude die on the same day. is my dad going to want to talk to him or me first? is his body duplicated to give everyone what they want?

are there millions of different versions of amy winehouse just chilling upstairs, ready to talk about how much rehab meant to some dead body? what about amy? what does she need? maybe she doesn’t wanna waste waking hours of her dead days helping process another dead person’s shit? i know what you’re thinking right now, and you’re right. what the fuck?

so after the third debate, my mom called me to tell me good job. on the campaign, we ran our war room out of a hotel near the el paso airport. embassy suites, baby. nothing but the best. on the call, she told me about a relative my dad had. a man who had escaped the russians during their genocide of jews in the early 1900s. so, hold up? maybe i’m… jewish? why am i whining about God then?

i try to light a candle on the anniversary of my dad’s death, but sometimes i’m in a place that doesn’t have candles. also, there’s this whole thing about a very specific candle and when i was in el paso it wasn’t like i was gonna find a jewish store filled with that specific candle and my apartment couldn’t take packages so i couldn’t have it delivered so look the rub here is i didn’t burn a candle. i don’t want to be a bad daughter.

tbh, the first few years i just had a few shots of whiskey. when i drank, i preferred whiskey to chill on ice but on the september 6th’s, i drank it neat. i wanted it to burn. almost as if — if i were to be in pain, he’d come and rescue me?

when i watched that scene in hook, i had my own epiphany. God is a complicated thing but a happy thought is not. it’s simply a happy thought. that’s what helps. that’s what gets us through the day. a simple happy thought — a simple higher power.

is a child anything more than a puppet? i’d ask God if i could.

talk soon,
rk

#008 The Thought Alone is Gold

hi pals,

a few thoughts:

  1. is there an asmr for watching cream get dropped into black coffee? it makes me wanna cry. reminds me of that john green line in the fault in our stars, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.

  2. i’ve lived in dc for a few weeks now. i like it, but i have some observations.

    • what’s up with the minute long crosswalk signs? unnecessary, imho.

    • i was told there would be more snow. where is it?

    • the buffet’s are good. i fucking life a casual buffet. eat a little chicken, a little rice. just really great. gotta respect it.

    • everyone in every bar is talking politics. was eating a little snack last night at this pub and i was overhearing these two boys on a date talk about how they’re not republican but think john mccain would have made a good president. oh, yeah. i’m in dc.

    • been walking a lot so i’ve been listening to a lot of music. it’s the winter, so it’s sad boi songs. u ever listening to a guy singing these manly sad boi songs and you’re like “this is nice i just hope he’s gay” and then he’s got this line that’s like plz don’t mind me yeah i was looking up your skirt… and it’s just like, c’mon.

      • i get it, man is horny.

  3. hard tellin’ not knowin’ but… never mind.

  4. i’ve been playing a lot of madden with kev. we came up with the most intricate system for video game football, which is good. essentially, we ran a draft over text and then both chose are line-up’s blind of each other’s lists. there’s been some good matches but he’s whooping my butt. i gotta strategize better. i have him the first three quarters and then i make one mistake and lose the game. he’s just more cool under pressure. gotta respect it but i need a win.

    • kev has a tendency to run jet sweep’s — which was fine when i understood what he was doing, but he’s started to throw in these jet sweep fakes and i don’t have the solution. finally get my guys over to the right place and he’ll just send it to the tight end for 20 yards. still looking for the perfect defense.

  5. i stayed up until about two a.m. last night when it hit me: i’m not fucking done. i’m not fucking done fighting and neither should you be. i ain’t playing dead cuz i ain’t dead.

  6. folks keep askin’ me about what i’m doing online. well,

    • “rgk” are my initials. robyn grace kanner.

    • i’ll probably make it more professional when there’s something to say.

    • i hate feeling like other people own a part of me — which is essential why i teeter away from having an identity on the internet. especially because i’ve already Been Cool online and know how simple that is but also know how hollow that feeling is.

      • take what i was doing on instagram — those little poetic one liners. i like writing them. they’re little puzzles. i’m actually still writing them. but i didn’t enjoy feeling like i was making these for you, because i wasn’t. also! they weren’t throw away feelings. there’s this one specific one i wrote that went like walking around chinatown and i’ve got nowhere to go. there’s a bar right here but i’ll steer clear. no friends, no home. there’s this very specific feeling and emotion where that one came from. it’s a very real scene to me and when i gave it to you i didn’t like it. i didn’t like that you had it — even though, the words are pretty far removed from the actual event i was referencing (which is what poetry is all about anyway). i don’t know. it gives you too much of me. i’m fine sending it here because truthfully pals there aren’t exactly a lot of you who read this but when it’s consumed and shared it all feels bad. not good.

      • and i know, this is coming from me! queen of oversharing. but last year did a number on me — it did a number on who i trust, how i let them in, what part of me they get to see — and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a bit of me for me.

    • i like talking on the telephone. it’s my preferred method of communication — and the project i did last year did get at what i wanted it to. vulnerability in a one-on-one. not everybody got to hear it. just me and the person i was talking — but! and here’s the big but! men made it bad. so i stopped it.

    • as for twitter, i mean — come on! if i’m reinforcing an overarching strategy, it makes sense to send the “blah blah blah” tweets. you know what i’m talking about. but when i’m not doing that, it doesn’t feel good. no one is ever going to write an original “trump is bad” tweet and tbh how many people actually give a shit about sharing information versus getting a few rt’s on ur pithy and pathetic joke — or, the ones that really bug me, are about our own candidates. bro, i get it. so and so ain’t ur jam. but u are smart enough to know that’s not what the world needs to hear right now. unity, baby. republicans have their horse, have had their horse ready for years. we’re still fussing it out on the practice field. let’s get real.

  7. i’m in total fear that something i write will one day ruin my life so everything above for all you twitter historians let’s make a pact ok.

  8. i don’t call a truce. there’s too much to do.

  9. i’ve been listening to this band that’s made up of some folks i grew up with and it runs me through this range of emotions. one of the gal’s — who, tbh, i wasn’t really tight with — but, you know, we’re close enough to call each other pals — hold on, let me reset. too many em dashes. ok, so she’s gay right and has always had this fem/butch balance that i aspire to. i hear her lyrics and they make me wanna cry not because they’re sad or whatever but because i remember one night when we were both living in portland maine i went to the movies alone and i can’t even remember what i saw but i remember her being on a date there — plus it was one of those late night movies where you get out at 12:30a.m. and the whole movie theater has shut down so it’s such a beautiful serene moment — but back to the movie, i remember thinking about how many hearts, how many thoughts, how many emotions are sitting there in that movie theater and i can’t remember what movie it was but i remember feeling like so many hearts were beating and then when i went to the movies yesterday i had the same feeling like so many thoughts and hearts just bouncing around and how fucking beautiful that moment is how all these people could come together in pure silence and the tension is unbearable. so unbearable. it’s hard to put it into words but maybe it’d be easier to put it in a song or write a line that removes the situation that carries the feeling which, again, is what i was doing before (re: 6) but how good, how good it could feel to be in a room, because that’s all a movie theater is, a room, and know that there is something pouring out of you that’s so fucking true and so fucking real and everything, the whole scene, the thought, it’s just too much, it’s all the gold. the thought alone is gold.

talk soon,
rk

#007 Seven Days

hi pals,

i’ve tried to write some end-of-decade story that really locks in a message, hook, and purpose. it hasn’t come and i don’t think i can force it (i could, but c’mon) so i guess i’ll just tell you about my week and let’s see what comes out.

what day does a week start on? seven days ago, i was moving. i’m always moving. i don’t mind the move, it’s just a lot of moving. plus, i only own two suitcases, a backpack, and guitar. not exactly a lot to move. anyway, i was going down these steps in a park slop apartment and slipped — like, a really comedic slip. something you’d see in a looney toon, maybe charlie brown? i landed on my back. landed is maybe too soft of a word. i smacked yeah that’s better i smacked my back off the edge of steps.

pain

i’ve fallen a few times over the last month. i chalk it up to instability but still, i’d like to stop falling. i fell off a fire escape, only a few feet down. i tripped over the sidewalk. i went bowling. i didn’t fall when i went bowling but i did realize i’m not a great bowler. there’s no moral in this story.

except, what if it’s this. i’m dying! no, lol. it’s not that. my dad had ms and sometimes i freak out that i have it too. i go through these very non-logical episodes where something happens, small, like a fall, and i assume that’s the end of my life. dramatic, i know. there’s of course, a possibility, that i do have ms. or, it’s possible that i was moving a suitcase and slipped because it was rainy. it’s possible that i was looking at my phone and not paying attention when i tripped on the sidewalk. it’s possible that i slipped on the fire escape because there were only three steps left and there was shit on the fire escape and i just miscalculated the landing. bowling is sort of irrelevant here, so i won’t bother.

it’s funny tho. if i like, have a cold, i google every symptom of ms. it’s not even hereditary just “more likely” that, because my dad had it, i might. not even great odds! the odds slip from 1% to 2.5%. there’s a 2.5% chance i might eventually get ms. that’s not even good odds! can deal a worse hand at mgm. have you heard about the talk of paranoia! listen now, it’s all around!

anyway, i live in dc now. i’m having a hard time sleeping. i miss the stakes, miss the fight. i miss my friends. i miss el paso. ever since i left el paso, nothing is el paso. does that make sense? beto launched a new thing — powered by people. have you seen it? it’s incredible. he would have made a great president. anyway, it’s the first time in 8 months that a design decision happened on that site that didn’t run through me. what a strange feeling. is this letting go? idk.

dc is fine, good even! new york was killing me. dc feels like new york lite. there’s probably billions of reddit threads dedicated to saying that. it’s got a vibe, there are brownstones. i’ve ran into a few trump stans. the place i’m doing work at (love how vague i am) is only a couple blocks away from the white house and so on lunch i go and walk by it. they’ve shut pennsylvania ave down because they’re installing bigger/taller fences around the white house. in el paso, trump ruined the view of mexico. in dc, trump ruined the view to the white house. ruiner administration. wretched!

i was there when he got impeached. just sitting outside. thinking about it all. no bright lights or explosions. just a few people holding signs in protest. quiet, business as usual. how far we’ve fallen. we got eaten by the wolves.

the gift shop is a funny thing. it’s 50% america, 25% trump, 15% obama, and 10% misc. presidents. strange days, strange ways! the weather is cold. i miss everything. do you think about that? missing, everything. even you, or us. even the wind, the cold, the rain, the snow, the hearts, the farts, the good bad beautiful true blue ugly green and yellow and the faces and the places and the traces from a place we once called home!

talk soon,
rk

#006 Blankets

hey pals,

there’s this story my mom tells that i thought i’d bring to you.

it’s 1980 and my mom and dad aren’t quite married yet — though, they’ve been dating for awhile. the cold has been creeping in, so they have the heat on in their midwestern apartment, right outside of columbus, ohio. they’re together, on the couch, watching the television.

john lennon is dead. there’s a special program playing to honor his life. before the last song, there is a commercial break. my mom gets up to pour another glass of wine and she asks my dad, “which song do you think they’re gonna play”

my dad, without skipping a beat, quietly returned, imagine.

my mom sits back down on the couch. she hands my dad a glass of wine. the television is back from a commercial break and the piano for imagine begins. i like to imagine my mom and dad enjoying this moment together. i like to imagine the rest of america, sitting on their couch, and enjoying this special moment together. if art can do anything, it’s that it can take us away from our world for one special moment so that we can go into a different world, a different life, something that brings us closer.

my friend is dead. we hadn’t talked in a few years. i don’t know if this makes it better or worse. they overdosed. it’s sad. it’s always sad.

i called chris. i’d like to tell you this is a thing we haven’t done before but that wouldn’t be the truth. after a friend dies — and at this point, there’s been a few — we write a song. it’s our way of taking ourselves out of our pain and, if we’re lucky, bringing us to a special moment.

there’s this one guitar melody that i wrote while i was in el paso. i had tentatively thrown it into the hard drive of melody’s chris and i might use for the album, but there were already so many, so we decided to shelf it and save it for a rainy day.

we’d left it alone, until last night when we cut the scratch vocals and switched up the placement of the capo, bringing it down to the appropriate mood. he had a verse and a pre-chorus, but nothing else. i wrote the chorus and then the second verse, which reads: i can’t go back to use after what you put me through. the pain i’m bound to feel is what makes this so real.

that’s the beauty of a song. i could write a whole blog post or put it in four bars and in the end, it’s the same thing.

within a few hours, we had written and recorded the majority of the song. we need to finishing our vocals and toss it over to a couple more friends to put their touch on it. then, we’ll release it tonight.

that’s it. it’s no imagine — but, if we’re lucky, it’ll take us away from the frustration and pain we feel. it’ll take us away from the all consuming day-to-day that interrupts all the beauty that life has to give. if we’re lucky, we’ll have a special moment together. and if we’re really lucky, katie will hear it. all the way down here from heaven where i’m sure she’s resting well.

rk

#005 Wendy

hi pals,

i’m writing you from a scottish café in the city. i’m not in texas anymore. what a sad sad piece of news. i’ll miss texas forever. it’ll hold a special place in my heart forever. when things like this happen, you gotta grieve. have to accept the process.

anyway, a few key things:

  1. i turned read receipts on my texts. it’s time i be transparent, honest.

  2. i’ve slept in a lot of places this last week. the last two nights, a hotel. the few nights before that, my sponsor’s couch. the few nights before that, my pals air mattress in his walk-in closet. all are very good. so thankful for everyone i know to open their homes to me while i figure out what i’m doing.

  3. i’m really into artist tunic’s lately. they’re so cute. they flow with the wind and when you think about my life right now, it’s a big mood. i think i subconsciously didn’t present super femme in texas — not something big and huge and internal or whatever, just was so fucking hot. hard to plan a cute outfit around ten pounds of sweat.

  4. i went to scientology — wait. what? yeah. ok, let’s talk about it.

you know on 46th, there’s this big scientology building? well, that’s where my hotel was next to. last night, i left my hotel without my phone. the freedom felt nice. in my infinite freedom, i decided to… walk into a cult? man, these places.

there’s a receptionist. i think her main job is to make sure you’re not gonna cause a fuss — or scream, or yell. sometimes i feel like aa is a cult (it’s def a cult) so to walk into this different cult was sort of a funny experience without the laughs. i kept a blank expression. i’d never make fun of someone else’s cult — knowing what my cult has done for me.

i walked up these big wide stairs. music was playing, but not anything you’d consciously listen to. this was more the type of music you hear on those commercials about medicine. sure, it’ll make you puke shit barely breathe break out psychotic episode — but hey, maybe your aching foot will start to feel better.

wendy was at the top of the stairs. she’s looking for clues. why am i here? what am i seeking? what have i lost? what could i gain? she sits me down on a cushy red seat. in front of me is a tv with external speakers designed to feel like a movie theatre. this special showing, all for me. she plays me the introduction. it’s a two-minute long scientology commercial. it says nothing, but promises you everything. want a better husband? join scientology. wanna repair your relationship with your abusive father? join scientology. whatever problem you have, scientology can solve it.

when it finishes, wendy asks me some follow up questions. where do i live? i tell her texas, but it’s really nowhere. where do i work? i say politics, but it’s really nothing. she asks if i believe in spirituality. i tell her yes, except that i’m a part of a different spiritual cult. the alcoholic one. she’s excited about this. she tells me that aa is about giving up your control to god — which is mostly true — and scientology, her cult, is about regaining control. who am i kidding? i ate this shit up.

next video has the same medical music. drugs! drugs! drugs! my love. this one involves a car wreck, drunk man in a suit, woman ruining a relationship. wendy’s given me the good shit. she picked up my alcoholism and went straight for the guilt. remember that time you fucked your life up? scientology, bitch. that’ll fix you.

i look to my right and it’s a man — who i’m assuming is a leader of sorts. he’s a bit older, wearing a black sweater, and pleated khaki’s. he’s microwaving his dinner. smelt like pasta, if i’m being honest. when you watch one of these videos, everyone hears the audio — no headphones, this is surround sound, baby. so now, here we are. wendy, a man eating pasta, and me. they’re both nodding along to the music and shortly am i, too.

when the video ends, wendy pulls me aside. she needs more information. she starts to ask about my drinking and i tell her the truth. i drank to forgot and then i drank to remember. now, without drinking, i have no memories. i want those memories back. and that, my friends, is the truth.

she hands me what i assume is the big book of scientology. it’s mostly red, and very big. in serif type, it reads DIANETICS. wendy is petite, but no matter. she’s so fucking hyped right now, and i can feel it. she tells me about how she, too, was lost. i asked her how much time she had and she looked a bit confused. i guess different cults have different linguistics. she’s been a member since the 70s. she tells me how her reactive mind was making decisions that wasn’t good for her. when she found scientology, she found a better life.

as wendy goes on and on about her reactive mind, in drift into thinking about tom cruise. i wonder if he stood where i am right now — finding his own reactive mind. what were the pictures that tom saw? why was scientology the thing that helped him? how does anything help anyone? i wonder if tom and wendy are friends. do they jump on couches together?

wendy has started to sell me the book. to be honest, i was a little surprised she didn’t give it to me for free? that’s what aa does, at least. anyway, i tell her i’m not quite ready and she brings me over to another red plush seat. this one, also just for me. it’s farther away from the microwaved pasta and for that, i’m happy. this video is all about death — but it has the happy medicine music, nonetheless. it opens with a man at a funeral. it ends with that same man, happy with a wife and kids. want a wife and kids? join scientology.

at this point, i’m ready to leave. three videos is enough. as i’m picking up my coat, wendy reappears. DIANETICS is in her hands. she pulls me aside and whispers in my ear that this book is the truth. if i buy it right now, i can start my first therapy appointment tomorrow. she’s starting to sense me pulling away. she’s intent on finding out my last name. i tell her i work in politics and would like to stay discrete. she asks for my phone number and i tell her a lie. i want this to be the last time i speak with wendy but she won’t let me go. it’s almost as if my joining would validate her experience. but, i can’t — she’s got to do this by herself.

the truth is, i’m not hurting. there’s no large aching pain that occupies the center of my brain. there’s nothing that keeps me up at night. my world isn’t over. i just lost a fucking campaign. that’s it. nothing more, nothing less. i don’t need to join another cult. i don’t need to go to intensive therapy. i don’t need to blow my life up in an incredible mess. i need to eat some healthy food, go for a run, and write. i need to talk to my friends, accept help as it comes, and sleep at night. i need to drink coffee, laugh, and watch netflix. i need to get back to work. it’s actually all very simple. i’m grieving — and very soon, i’ll move on.

there’s so much said about scientology and i hear it all. it’s like an octopus with endless tentacles. the more you stay, they more they’ll latch on. i felt it with wendy. whereas aa will set you free when you’re ready, scientology won’t. and as for wendy, i wish her well. our paths are different — but no matter our cult, we both want the same thing: to be ok.

talk soon,
rk.

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