Category Archives: Parenting

New Year

2017 sucked. I know it was rough for a lot of people. I’m not sure if it’s because I am getting older and have entered the hell and a hand basket stage, waving angry fist at cloud, but I can honestly say last year ranks among the very worst of my life. And, yes, that includes the homeless junkie years.

As you may know I lost my brother, Josh, in November. Most sibling relationships are complicated, but Josh and I had a shared history of addiction, which only further complicates. It’s not as simple as one of us was the fuck up, the other the overachiever. We each played both roles, at various times. The end was particularly hard. By then I’d given up the ghost, was married with kids, living on the West Coast. The writing had taken off, books doing well; and my brother was 3,000 miles away in his own tormented hell. There was a time where Josh and I were as close as two brothers get. The last several years saw more distance, as I moved further and further from certain behaviors, movement that my brother, for whatever reasons, couldn’t emulate. And it sucks because when you lose someone, especially under those conditions, where the person, essentially, let their own demons consume them, you’re going to ask what you could’ve done. I’ve been asking that question for the better part of fifteen years. I’ve just changed tenses.

If you’ve read the Jay Porter books, you know where the story of two brothers, one an addict, the other besieged by guilt and regret, finds its inspiration. I am not Jay Porter, even if Jay Porter is me. If that makes sense.

Junkie Love is coming out next year in a 2nd edition, with new Foreword by one of my literary heroes, Jerry Stahl, and a new Afterword by me. The Afterword, which I wrote shortly after Josh’s passing, might be the best thing I’ve written in fifteen years. Even as it came from one of the worst times of my life. That’s art, right? Nothing ever going wrong does not for great writing make. But I’d give back every book, and just about everything else in my life too, save my two boys and family, to have my brother and mother back (they can keep my father).

I don’t want to talk too much about that Afterword–you’ll get to read it soon enough–but one of the lines in there talks about how the Porter books have long been the conversations I wanted to have with my brother but couldn’t. I don’t think Josh ever read any of my books after Junkie Love. I know it must’ve been hard, that thin line between truth and fiction.

Since November, I’ve sorta checked out. Going on social media got to be too painful. And since I spend a lot of my life in the virtual realm, I feel like I’ve been isolating and anti-social. I’m that way in the physical world too (never been much of a people person), but I’m usually online, on Facebook or whatever, to interact. A lot of people reached out after Josh died, and the outpouring was touching and deeply appreciated. But I could also not go on social media and not be reminded. And some days I didn’t want to be reminded. Some days I just wanted to play with my boys or watch football or go golfing. Even if as I did those things I was never fully able to escape the reality that my little brother was gone, and no matter how much longer I lived, another 50 years, I wouldn’t get to see him again.

With 2018 almost here, I’ve … resolved … to get back out there. Like a single mom dating again or something. I have some good news with my books, and I’ll share that soon, and I’ll need to do my part to promote. I know the year turning over isn’t some magic reset button; it’s an arbitrary marker. Still I am anxious to see what this New Year brings. I don’t want to say it can’t get much worse because I know it always can, which makes me more appreciative and grateful for the people in my life, my family, friends, fans, folks who took the time out to check in on me these past couple months. Thank you. I expect you’ll be seeing more of me (that’s not a threat). (If only in an electronic version. I still don’t like to wear pants.)

The Last Jedi

I understand there are a bunch of you out there, all six of you, who don’t like Star Wars. And I know this because every time a new movie comes out, you feel the need to tell everyone on social media how you “Don’t like Star Wars!” And then some of you still go to see the new movie anyway and feel the need to harsh everyone else’s mellow by telling us how you “Didn’t like the new Star Wars!” And while I appreciate counterpoints and discourse, am always open to a good conversation, I’ve sorta grown weary of engaging. So before I start, I just wanted to say, You don’t like Star Wars? Didn’t like The Last Jedi? Good for you. Now fuck off. This post isn’t for you.

For the rest of you still here, the ones with taste and faith: HOW FUCKING COOL WAS THAT? Holy. Shit!

I just came back from seeing The Last Jedi for the third time (this time with my littlest, Jack Jack). I went Opening Night with my oldest (Holden), and then twelve hours later returned to see it again. But it wasn’t until this third viewing that I was finally able to appreciate how brilliant a film this is.

Oh, and before I go on? **SPOILERS!!** I would assume that you’d know that, but I don’t want to ruin the the twists and turns, the reveals and strokes of genius. So I’ll wait till you show yourselves out.

Everyone gone? Okay. Cool.

Star Wars is a religion. It really fucking is. When people ask my faith (happens on the East Coast more than you’d think), I usually describe myself as a Springsteen Catholic (I believe in the love that you gave me, I believe in that faith that can save me). But really I believe in The Force. That’s pretty much all there is anyway, and why these films have meant so much to so many for so long. The Light Side. The Dark Side. In the words of Maz Kanata: “[It is] [t]he only fight. Against the Dark Side. Through the ages I’ve seen evil take many forms. The Sith. The Empire. Today, it is the First Order [Trump]. Their shadow is spreading across the galaxy. We must face them. Fight them. All of us.”

Damn. Life distilled to its essence. Anyway, that was from Force Awakens. Which was also awesome, and, honestly, probably a more “enjoyable” film. By that I mean, I can watch FA pretty much non-stop. It’s popcorn fodder, the Goodfellas of the canon. When it’s on, I can’t turn it off. But The Last Jedi is probably the “better” film.

This is my first blog post in a while, so rather than dissect (spoilers) the first two acts (spoilers), I want to instead focus on the 3rd, specifically … (spoilers) Luke Skywalker.

I waited 30 years for this moment. I’m not kidding. When the Internet was invented and its use became part of my routine, I would routinely put two phrases into the search engine: Pink Floyd reunion with Roger Waters, and … New Star Wars trilogy. It was almost a nervous tic. For years and years, nothing. Then one day? New Star Wars trilogy. But more than just seeing a new film, I was desperate to see Luke in the Obi Wan role. I waited a long fucking time for this.

When I saw The Last Jedi on opening night, I was really bummed that Luke dies (or becomes one with the Force). The projection is cool as fuck, and the shoulder dust-off gold. The “See ya around, kid” equally priceless. But when Luke disappears, leaving on Jedi cloth, it bummed me out. I got a little too much of the feels, because Luke was my childhood. There isn’t a boy (minus the 6) who grew up in the 1970s who didn’t feel an affinity for Luke. Especially those of us in small farm towns who dreamt of the stars.

I’ve read online where some disgruntled nerds didn’t like how Luke went out. To that I’ll only say there is a reason Rian Johnson gets paid millions and you don’t. Dude nailed it. That ending is goddamn epic. All of it. The walking out to “to take on the whole First Order with a laser sword,” the Christ-like sacrifice he makes. Luke can’t return. He’s not the same Luke of the original trilogy. He’s an old man, and, furthermore he’s too powerfulLike his presence in Return of the Jedi jeopardizing the entire mission, Luke’s mere being disrupts the balance. He needs to leave, bow out, pass along what he knows. THAT is our legacy. Passing on what we know, leaving behind the good we’ve acquired, the love we’ve learned. In the words of Yoda: We are what they grow beyond.

It’s hard to rank the films. Nothing will probably ever beat Empire or A New Hope because it launched this religion; it’s hard to put anything ahead of either one. But these last two movies (along with Rogue One) are right up there with Jedi, and probably better than that one and closer to Empire than not. I can’t say I “liked” Last Jedi more than Force Awakens. But l do believe it is the heavier, more important film. And when this franchise is reexamined on down the road, after I, too, am long gone, I’m guessing this will be at the top of many lists.