The Sometimes Daily Journal

The Writings of J. R. Stemple

Scott

My mother emerged from her room in tears. It was about 6 a.m., just before school. My little sister and I were going about our morning routines when the weight of the world came crashing down.

“Scott… he killed himself last night,” she said. My little sister Tara wept. I went about my routine as if I hadn’t heard the words. I hadn’t spoken to Scott in a number of years; he was in college at the time. An old family friend—the son of my mother’s best friend. The guy who showed me how to play Donkey Kong on his N64. The guy my older sister had always been in love with. The guy who always made everyone laugh.

“He hung himself. His roommate found him…” my mother said, trailing off through her tears. I didn’t know what to say. “I knew he had suffered from depression, I just…” My mother was trying to explain a death to us like we were children. I didn’t blame her though.

I drove my sister to school in silence. We walked into the school in silence. Everyone stared at us in silence. My father was the principal of our high school and Scott’s mother was one of the assistant principals. her office was down the hall from my father’s—it was dark and empty. Everyone knew.

“Are you okay?” asked everyone who locked eyes with me.

“Yes” I’d say just to get them to walk away. I wasn’t even sure. My father pulled me out of class around 2nd block and put me in a counselling office.

“Are you okay?” he asked. Oh no, not him too.

“Yes,” I said.

“Do you need to go home?”

“Yes.”

“Okay,” he said. He never lets me go home early, not even when I’m sick. “Get your little sister and go home.” He gave me money to buy us lunch. The entirety of the counselling staff was waiting outside the door as if they were all planning to hug me as I burst into tears. I walked past them all and left.

I felt thankful to be let go from the day. Not because I was grieving, but to get away from all the people who wouldn’t leave me the hell alone. It was all because they cared, I know, but at one point one has to realize when a close family friend commits suicide, I’m not going to be okay that very same day.

“Tara,” I said on the ride home, “how many people asked if you were okay?”

“Everyone. I got really annoyed,” she said. I was glad I wasn’t alone.

We got Chic-fil-a breakfast and headed back home to de-stress. I put on a movie we hadn’t seen and we watched it together. The cloudy gray light fell onto the TV. My eyes grew bloodshot from forgetting to blink.

I wasn’t sure if I was in shock or if I didn’t care. That thought made me sick. And so did social media. Twitter was filled with false claims of knowing Scott; people who sent their prayers to him. I imagined my peers typing on their phones in wild succession after discovering the news of Scott’s death,  “look at such a good person I am!” and “I know this is a tragedy but don’t forget about me too!”

Fuck you, I thought, for capitalizing on the death of a young man for retweets.

I propped up from my Gollum stance over my phone when I heard my sister crying again. I consoled her the best I could. There’s something entirely scary about not having any power to make things better, that something could’ve been done before. But the damage was done. The permanent solution to a temporary problem.

The rest of the day seemed to flow the same. My mom came home and made dinner. We ate, ignoring the elephant in the room. I asked how Scott’s mom was doing—my mother visited her earlier that day.

“Her eyes were dead. She looked like a zombie,” she said. I didn’t blink. I wasn’t surprised.

The day finally came to end where it started: the darkness of the night. The dams of my emotions burst free in finality. I wept alone. I fell asleep.

A Line from Another

“All my life my heart has sought

A thing I cannot name”

—Remembered line from a long-forgotten poem

As seen in Hunter S. Thompson’s “Hell’s Angels,” page 269

On Rambling

So there I was, sipping my third cup of coffee at 1 PM. I can already feel my attention slipping away towards some other damn thing.

The other day I said I’d (try to) write every day—yet here I am a few days later. Easy there, tiger, you can only achieve so much.

Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts, I’d rather not—I’d rather rot. And this is what ejects out of my fingers with no target in mind. It’s like standing with a drawn bow, blindfolded, and not actually having a target to hit. I whisper to whatever god may stand high above me in the clouds and hope something meaningful comes out.

But does it have to mean anything? Does there have to be a point to these small posts? No, it doesn’t have to. But a meaning does make a reading better. After all, I’m just typing the very first thing that comes to mind. Shit, if I was reading this I would’ve stopped reading by the second or third sentence.

This month is National Novel Writing Month. I had a dose of medication and wrote somewhere around 2500 words in an hour and felt pretty good about that. I haven’t touched it since. I wrote around 9000 words this summer for some shit story akin to The Rum Diary. One of my favorite quotes from The Rum Diary is “I’ve got no voice, I don’t know how to write like myself.”

A lot of young writers face this dilemma (me included). A lot of young writers also idolize Thompson (me included). I’ve spent so long trying to write like my favroite writers instead of just writing like myself—but I don’t know how. It’s all so common. I find blogs from other writers and their posts often reflect mine—spread out posts that mention they don’t know how to write, just haven’t found that one bit of push that would bring them into the groove.

“A man is the sum of his experiences,” Thompson once said. It’s hard to be yourself with little experience on hand. Even now, a word document is minimized on my dock for a short essay on why I would be a good fit for a NASA internship. That’s life experience, right?

I guess we’re all just waiting for the right story to come along. Maybe we should start searching instead.

My Poet Odyssey

Last night, the cold winds blew into the car, the clear starry skies rained light down hard.

Curse the transition of the sun, the placement of the moon in the sky, curse your reflection in the review mirror—lies.

Cling to cries of desperate forests where the trees stick in stuck and muck of their own deluded doing;

The Doldrums of yesterday flock to the backseat with a faceless familiar letting joy take the wheel for a day or two,

My Love of the past scolded me in my dream telling me to end this Tirade; I woke in the wake of morning fretting, and afraid.

I am going on a road to nowhere. To chase the aspect of something, to run from the notion of nothing.

I am going on a road to nowhere. Where the sweet release of nothing seems to be the gateway to something.

I am going on a road to nowhere. Where solemn something claws at the back of the brain and causes hallucinations of perception and pain—

And the road trails on; tumbleweed dreams roll through flat empty plains in dreary states alongside the unending pavement.

I shall writhe in the abscess of life, condoning the horrors committed in my name, droning on to closed ears rife with darkness incarnate,

A ripe sickness flows through those that hit the pavement—keeping tired but wired minds up in the small hours of the night;

Fallen, drunken hope; the spool wound just too tight, where discordant black sticks stay still like scorned loves of yesterday…

Ejected outside a lamplight cave, floating feeling dissociated and depraved—follow your heart in streetlight glory!

So, I sat upon the sparkling dew, overlooking a rippled plate of water, hoping to see the duvet of stars roll through my empty eyes, full of desire.

So, I rode the road to nowhere! With nowhere in mind, with nowhere of any kind! Following mine until the end.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (a movie review)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” directed by Terry Gilliam and released in 1998, based on the story of the same name, is a film about a renegade journalist sent to cover a few events located in the popular town of Las Vegas, Nevada. Although a renowned journalist, Raoul Duke (this is a name the author, Hunter S. Thompson used for himself to blend fact and fiction into a story, i.e. Gonzo Journalism) spends the majority of his time in the fabulous Laz Vegas in a haze of all kinds of drugs. Indeed a disgusting view into the mind of the depraved, Duke, and his attorney—aptly named Dr. Gonzo—trawl around Vegas with almost no intention of doing anything at all.

The first event they were sent to cover was the Mint 400, which Duke says, “In some circles, the Mint 400 is a far, far better thing than the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby and the Lower Oakland Roller Derby Finals all rolled into one.” After a failure to cover the race due to indulgence in an array of drugs from LSD to DMT, Duke and his attorney wind up across town after destroying their hotel room, covering a narcotics convention run by police officers (Duke carries his briefcase stash right through the crowd of power-hungry cops). Again, Duke and his attorney wind up on all sorts of drugs, missing the convention entirely, but with a rich story to tell instead.

At the surface, this film is seen as a staple “druggy” movie due to the, well, the rampant drug use. A flop at the time, it’s become a cult film in the last two decades. Looking deeper into the film (and thus the novel, if given a read) has a theme of the death of the American dream. In this sense, the American dream can be summed up as being financially stable, with the perfect wife and kids, white picket fences, a perfect lawn; a nuclear family if you will. It was the hope that you’d be in America and “win big” (especially in Vegas) and live comfortably with your material wealth. Gilliam—and by extension, Thompson—sought to show that this idea died in that era and that the hippie movement was a failure. The rampant drug use wasn’t just because—it was because that’s what the pair felt they needed to enjoy the concept of Vegas. For example, at one point in the film, Duke and Gonzo huff Ether—a dissociative drug causing you to lose control of your motor functions—and try to enter a casino, which they fail to do themselves. The bouncers see this and shove them through the gates, hoping the “drunks” would lose all their money in the casino. This shows that the society in Vegas was ugly; it was out to steal your money, not make you rich. The American Dream was dead.

Thompson (or Duke) was always out to show his readers that the world is ugly sometimes. He made himself ugly to really dig into that idea. That’s what Gilliam was trying to convey in his 1998 movie, which was possibly why the movie was seen as a failure at the time. By comparison, some of the highest grossing movies of 1998 were “Armageddon,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Godzilla,” all films of Americans coming together and stopping something larger than themselves, growing as people, and simply being patriotic. The late 90’s was a thriving time for the USA; people didn’t want to be told that they were ugly.

Media is a subjective view—which can be seen by the horrible reviews of Fear and Loathing at the time of its release, but the cult status it contains decades later—but “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” remains a great movie. But sometimes you have to be just the right mindset for it.

On Writing Everyday

Ooph, what a drag right? Hard to write every day when there’s nothing to write about. I sat down at my desk looking out at the rain as it fell down from up above. Did you know that rainwater is actually incredibly dirty? It takes a speck of dirt or what have you to form the droplets in the sky. Speaking of dirt, this floor is disgusting. I’ll just go grab the broom and…

There it goes again. It’s so easy to slip away from the keyboard when a blank page stares back (that damn menace). Writing has always been fun for me, but only when I feel myself fall into the groove of things. But some days it’s really hard to find that groove. Those days are the ones I give up and don’t write a thing.

I played a joke on myself with the title of this blog. Clearly, I never post daily (I tend to forget about it most days). I’ve always wanted to take it to the next level but I just never had. “Tomorrow,” I’d say. Then I’d say the same thing the next day. “Oh, I don’t have anything planned Friday—I’ll do it that day.” But Friday is the day to relax! Oh god, it just keeps going.

What I’m trying to say is that it isn’t easy to write every day. But it’s not meant to be easy. This isn’t some new revelation at all—we’ve all known this since the beginning of everything. Writing is hard, writing is work, writing sucks at the soul—why did I choose to do this I wonder?

Because I’m the most myself when my fingers fall over the keyboard. Because the feeling I get looking at the blocks of words I wrote (bad or good) elevates me higher than anything else I know. Because when I was a little kid all I wanted to do was write stories and share them with my friends. Because I am who I am.

I’ll try to post more—maybe daily if I can muster some semblance of something. I don’t even care if anyone is paying attention. It was always just for me anyways (sorry kids). Stay safe out there,

-J.R.

An Open Letter

Dear Kindred Spirit,

 

Fear: a driving force in life. Fight or flight—despite your might—may come to you in fits of desperation. There will always be fear coursing through your brains like blood in your veins. Don’t let yourself become the fear. Seek to understand it. After all, fear is natural, bravery is a choice. Make yours before it’s too late.

 

-J. R. Stemple

July 29th, 2017

Goodbye

 One last goodbye my dear, my sweet, my dime. One last goodbye before I see you for the last time.

I tried so hard to hold onto that which had no grip. We knew the outcome before the show began.

I remember nights laid under blankets of stars where I fell in love with you with talks of a happy future we would pursue.

And then I gave it all away

Those sullen nights spent sour were my own doing. Let myself become the Fear.

I’ll always love you, my missing puzzle piece; till the next feast, still I find my own way.

The ebb and flow comes and goes. The river flows. To ignore suffering is suffering in itself, I know.

I’m fine, I won’t be a mess, I just need some time to decompress.

So, One final goodbye, my dear. Our faces slime with sweat, snot, and tears in heat while our lips meet for the final time. One final

Goodbye.

Forest of the Misty Minds

I

Rain drops fell down his skin

As he entered the rainy forest from within

The forest grows with time and see

And in the midst is the Main Brain Tree

It colors the forest a decent bright green

And covers everything that he’s seen

One morning he approached the green dwell

In weathered rain he felt unwell, sought dispel

The rain fell down his skin

He sought the tree for a dry inn

For a moment’s notice, there was no downpour

A deep meditation brought calm to his core

However, the rain continued outside the tree

He still heard it to a certain degree

It rang in his ears

For a red presence drew near

II

A house deeper in the forest interrupted his meditation

Creating within him a burning sensation

Furrowed brows and curious hearts

Drew him to where this story starts

He wandered over to the house

Away from the tree, rain espouse

A faceless devil ejected from the door

Familiarity drew him closer all the more

The faceless devil invited him in

“Come in,” he said, “come in”

Inside a fire raged too hot

He sensed Fear more than not

“Sit,” said the faceless devil, motioning to a lone table

He obliged

In front of him the faceless devil set a burnt stew

“Eat up,” said the faceless devil, “eat up before it grows cold”

He obliged

“This tastes burnt,” he said

The faceless devil smiled

“I know”

III

He Gags a bit on his own mistake

Alone in the room, company forsake

Lunged for an exit, but the door was gone

The trouble on him it did dawn

A dirty spirit sprouted from the ground

Fighting against the encompassing fire red

It offered a safe way against the blank space

He took the deal, with spit it sealed

thoughts lifted to imaginary places

stories took place in seconds

Forgotten as they come

He entered a maze

made for strange days in strange ways

The walls of the prison gave way to new ones of the mind

IV

Wading through the mist

sailing through gloomy waters

he hears a hiss

but not a movement, not a flinch

Casts aside his doubt for better ignorance

better to feel nothing than anything more

no anger or hate

no sadness or weight

no need to mediate

He revels in this lack

and then he sleeps

V

I awaken in a dream

 

Have you seen the day?

It’s brighter than you think

There’s nothing you can say

There’s no secret, no power

It’s not easy

No guarantee

Life is work, but you’ll be free

 

You turn to run

In the maze; degenerate ways

Life isn’t over and done

Always searching for the light

The fire rages inside

Eyes heavy with blindness

Open them wide

 

I’ll show you the way

Through your false introspection

The brightness of day

The calmness of night

All you have to do

To get a new view

Is break on through

VI

Awake

The walls crumble

In heaps and jumble

The sullen rain goes on around

He sees it fall in present eyes

He stands his gentle ground

With the spool of his soul unwound

 

The more I learn, the less I know!

He sings in happy glee

As he gallops in the rain

around the Main Brain Tree

 

The devil appears from space

A crescent cradle across his face

Confident as before, devil offers his hand

He slaps it away, not apart of this plan

 

Devil retreats into the forest

To remain a stray thought

He comes in waves

Forgotten he’s not

VII

Calm at the center

Rest at the core

Though bad thoughts may enter

Acknowledged and more

He looked within

And found his strength

Forgave his sin

His mistakes he thanks

His hate, his doubt

Fade and fell

Mindfulness throughout

At the green dwell

Modern Psychedelic Rock Playlist

This is a playlist I created a few months back in an attempt to mimic the way Apple Music puts together playlists—they flow almost like an album. I selected my favorite songs from known and some more obscure bands. Psychedelic rock overlaps with many other subgenres of rock, which is clear on this playlist. It floats from harder, more garage rock into softer, more laid back neo-psychedelia. I hope someone out there enjoys it. -J.R.

1) Gojira – Flamingods

2) Albuquerque Freakout – Holy Wave

3) Sleepwalker – Moon Duo

4) The Seven Poison Wonders – Night Beats

5) Heavner – The USA Is a Monster

6) Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster – Thee Oh Sees

7) Flight – Wooden Shijps

8) Keep on Lying – Tame Impala

9) A Window In Time – Puma Pumku

10) Not All Are Meant to Be Trusted – The Halfways

11) Chasing My Tail – Mild High Club

12) Moreno’s Blend – Pond

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