100, Eliezer Tristan Publishing, Homies, Mental Health, Playlists, Poetry, Readings, Road Trip!, Stigma Fighters

So here’s what went down…(Part 1)

Long time no see, folks! My bad…but it’s been a crazy couple of days and it’s time to fill y’all in on what’s been happenin’…

I tend to forget when I’m in this author blog that I’m also a Mental Health advocate. For some reason it never seems to get mentioned here, even though my publisher focuses on that. Let’s tie everything together today…buckle up, cuz it’s been a crazy ride.

On Friday, May 17th, Eliezer Tristan Publishing held a reading/book signing/Mental Health Seminar at a Barnes & Noble in Hartford, CT. A few of the presenters are from various parts of Connecticut; my publisher was coming from Portland, Oregon, another was coming from the Virginia area at the last minute, and I was taking a Greyhound in from the middle of New York state (I have to clarify it’s the state and not the city; an important distinction and you’ll find out why soon enough).

A couple days beforehand, our publisher determines she may need a small but possibly expensive miracle to make it. Commence widespread panic among the other attendees, spawning multiple Twitter conversations and separate Messenger threads about who’s gonna come in when and where, who’s gonna stay with who and where, and how we’re all supposed to pull this even off without her. I’m telling you this because it affected me directly…Sarah Fader (the CEO of ETP) and I were supposed to stay at an Air B&B barn in Fairfield (the first failure occurred when neither of us looked at a map to determine that Fairfield was nowhere close to where we were having the event and wasn’t near any of our online CT friends). This was a bit problematic.

Enter my new best friend ever, Stephanie Paige, who deserves a friggin’ Humanitarian Award of some sort for figuring half of our shit out. She was gonna pick me up at Union Station instead of me meeting up with Sarah, and was gonna let me stay with her for a night until we knew what was going on with more clarity.

Lemme tell ya, brothers and sisters: Clarity deserted us until the last fucking minute. Never rely on clarity, as that will fuck you in no way gently. You’re better off wingin’ it until it’s legit Go-Time!! and seeing what works and what doesn’t and adapting on the fly. I can’t tell you how many times the goalposts were moved before 7pm on Friday, and most of the time the goalposts we were kicking at were on a completely different field. To further illustrate, in all of the chaos and tweets and Messenger notifications, it was determined that Stephanie was going to meet me at Union Station. Sweet…one box checked; now let’s move on and get everyone else situated.

Now, by looking at a map (again, something we never considered doing), one can determine that Connecticut is a relatively small state. Why then, for the love of all things holy and sacred, does a tiny-ass fucking state like CT have not one, but two places travelers can be picked up that go by the identification of Union Station??

I was supposed to arrive around 7pm, but because New York motherfucking City is a disaster traffic-wise, I think I got in around 8. Not a problem; Stephanie was milling around the human rat puzzle known as IKEA. The IKEA in New Haven, right near Union Station. As I began rattling off places I was seeing while trippin’ down the freeway, it became abundantly clear that I was also heading toward Union Station…in Hartford. The Founding Fathers and City Planners in both Hartford and New Haven should be dug up from their graves so Stephanie and I can slap the shit outta ’em. So she’s going back home, and I’m gonna take a Lyft to her place. An unplanned expense.

I input all my info into the Lyft app and it quotes me $75. I take a deep breath, suck it up, and- holdupwaitaminute- I determine based on the app that I don’t think where I’m standing matches the address I’ve put in and what the map is telling me. I take a walk around the block, maybe 100 feet, to a bar on a corner with an address I know will be easier to find. Problem solved…and for some unknown reason, fate smiled down upon me and the price of the Lyft dropped down to $60. Fuck technology y’all…use your damn legs and save some of your hard-earned cash! That 100 feet of walking equals the price of my book! Thank me later when you’re telling me how much you enjoyed it.

Funny side note about the bar: When I walked in to ask for a proper address, right next to me was a man who looked familiar. He was a very good friend of mine about 20 years ago, and we had a ridiculous falling out over I don’t even know what the fuck, so I said his name. And I know he heard me, because I immediately recognized his mannerisms as he looked all around this tiny little bar everywhere but at me standing an arm’s length away. I walked out, chuckled to myself, and said “Fuck you, Chris Okal”. Of all the places to see someone though, right?

So anyway, I finally get to Stephanie’s place around 10-ish? And I’m not gonna lie (and this is what I love about true kick-ass cool people)…we picked up conversation like we’d known each other for, like, forever. No weirdness, stiffness, awkwardness. Just typical straight catchin’ up and figuring out what was goin’ on. After over probably an hour of talk we decided to go to bed (in separate rooms, mind you, ya filthpigs…that’s how rumors get started, and no one needs that). I went to put her WiFi password in my tablet, and right next to where I was standing, a paper caught my eye. A paper containing a typed-up list of several ways to legit get away with murder.

Turns out Stephanie is a True Crime fan and well, I’m here and she’s cool as hell, so I didn’t die and let’s just move on. This entry is already long enough and we’ve barely begun.

Meanwhile, Sarah has posted that she needs two grand to get a last-minute flight for her and her two small children. Before I go on, I need to stress that I love Sarah and she’s wonderful, so don’t misconstrue anything I say about her in a negative way. Every one of us is scrambling to retweet our pleas…it was like watching a fucking telethon on Twitter. Enter Tea Jay, who was instrumental in orchestrating donations to Sarah’s PayPal and ensuring her arrival at some point (and while you’re checking out Taylor [long for Tea], take a looksee at my guest post on her blog, Advice For Writers Who Want It, Or Don’t).

Sarah miraculously found not only a flight, but someone to watch her kids. We all laid our heads down for the night, eased by the knowledge our leader would indeed be present.

Then we woke up.

Stephanie managed to kick in a sizable chunk to the donation pot. I don’t remember what Sarah said when she called me around ten after eight in the morning, but all my sleepy ass knew was she was coming and renting a car. With going back to sleep not being an option, I laid in bed checking Twitter…and boom there’s Sarah, posing like a god damn 80’s rap star in front of this sick-ass vehicle. A bright-ass red Mini Cooper, all Bond…James Bondin’ on it like a pimp. I could not remember at first what kind of car it was; I just knew it was well beyond our pay grades and needs (and boy was I wrong, but you’ll find out why in a little bit…stick with me y’all). I, ummm, did not know how to break this to Stephanie. And then I did.

She thought it was a Fiat, which, hey, easy to mix up, right? All morning, “Red Fiat” was a term of endearment, an epitaph, and a functional source of several WTFs and confusion. Like, a red fucking ’93 Ford Tempo would’ve been sufficient. But hell no…let’s crash Hartford in mawfuggin’ style, yo. Combined with the fact that she flew into NYC (there’s that fuckin’ city again), let’s <insert my “moving the goalposts” metaphor here as well> and I’ll let you decide what to do with all of our eye-rolling wonderment about what exactly was going to happen in the ever-decreasing amount of time we were having. Was Sarah coming to Stephanie’s house? What time? What about everyone else? Sarah’s posting pics of her with her NYC friends in the pimpmobile rental. We still had to pick up Christa Marie somewhere…it’s all a jumbled blur of a blur at this point. One of the Union Stations in CT. Somehow we got her to take a shuttle or a train or a UFO or whatever to the only Union Station that matters, up in Hartford.

I don’t know if you’re confused, but I lived it and I’m still confused as fuck.

Anyway, Christa’s a sweet kid with a heart of gold. I think at one point Stephanie and I realized we’re old enough to have been her parents, and we’d have probably been shitty parents, but not nearly as bad as anything she’s lived through (but that’s her story to tell, and this is mine, so…whatevs, moving on). We scooped her up, said “Fuck it!” and told Sarah to just meet us at Barnes & Noble, and we chilled at Spot Coffee (holy shit, there’s a Spot in CT!! I thought that was a Buffalo thing!). That’s where Taylor was, and that’s where we told Katie to find us.

I think I forgot to mention that Christa finally corralled all of us into one group chat thing on Messenger, which did make things a little easier…until things began to settle and the steam started letting off some and the sarcasm began to bleed out of our confused brains and souls. We eventually found Sarah at B&N, and mad props to my man Rick for hooking us up with water, comfort and ease, high-fiving me for getting his REM reference about the “end of the world” (I feel fine) and a giant adult-sized cardboard standup of The Cat In The Hat, to replace Aaron (the designer of my postcards and some of the ETP covers). Barnes & Noble, you need to pay that man well and make him your straight-up Events Coordinator or some shit; whatever you corporate-speak it.

Personally, after Sarah read the children’s book she co-wrote with her son, Nobody (which you should all buy if you have kids, and if you’re a teacher or parent of kids with special needs, hit me up and I’ll tell you how to get a copy), I read four poems from 100: “Over, under, around, and through.”, “Sinspiration”, something else because my Post-It page tabs have betrayed me in my travels and I can’t remember shit anymore, and “Black Joker”. All were received well, with chants for an encore. With everything else going on, I had no idea what I was going to read, let alone pick something else. To me, it wasn’t my event and it wasn’t about me…it was a Connecticut thing and it was meant to shine the light on these other wonderful authors, with their blogs turned into books and them just being more local to the area than me. I have my own CT stories, but that’s neither here nor there.

As for all of us, we’ve known of each other for quite awhile; some more than others and some through different events, but not this particular group, all together at the same time. Once the eyes of the crowd and the onlookers were upon us, you’d have thought we were sitcom stars holding a panel for the beginning of our 8th season…our rapport was flawless and fun and so easygoing. The way we all got along and got on and meshed with each other, there’s no way you could tell there was so much chaos and behind-the-scenes fuckery it took to get us all in the same place.

These people…I have all the respect in the world for them, and to have finally met and interacted with them, they’re amazing. We all came from different backgrounds with various Mental Health diagnoses, which maybe is our common denominator I guess, but this is my family. I love them all, I’m super proud of them, and I love that I can fuck around with them and be me and they can be themselves and we can (most importantly) share our stories and help people with our words and voices. We fought so damn hard for ourselves, and we still fight every day, but now we can bring the fight to the masses. I miss them, I miss going through what we all had to go through to be together, and I can’t wait to see them again. I know that the next time I’m feeling shitty about life or writing or just myself, I practically have a virtual library on the side of things I can look at and reminisce over and think fondly of and say “Hey, we all did that, together, because we’re amazing fucking people”. I mean that, from the bottom of my heart (when it’s not dead and soulless). And I hope over time you can enjoy them all as much as I have.

My biggest regret is that we didn’t get our hands on one of the B&N event posters. With all that extra empty green space on them, it hit me well after I’d finally gotten home that it would’ve been a great memento for Sarah if we’d all signed it and gave it to her. She brought us all together; without her, there’s no way I’d know that Stephanie and I are alike in so many ways, or that Christa is so sweet and earnest and like many of us at her age (OMG we’re ollllllld now), or that Taylor and her hubby Jonesy and their boy Jack are so much more fucking adorable in person, or that Katie is a stupid-great amount of fun and everything I thought she’d be and more based on reading her book (which, by the way, again…read everyone’s books, because you can learn so much about how the regular people in your lives function with various mental illnesses you’d never otherwise know they have). But back to the posters…that would’ve been so cool and amazing. Fader, we all love you.

With that, I’d like to draw this long-ass first part to a close, because it’s way too much and yet there’s still more. Preview: In Part 2, I’ll talk about what transpired after the gig, and the god damn mess that was my journey back to Cortland…from the dope #barnaf in Fairfield w/Fader, to the bus station journey in CT, sitting in NYC for a legit ungodly amount of time, and then eventually getting home at five-o-stupid-a-fucking-m after a shitty bus ride. When Seuss wrote Oh, The Places You’ll Go, I don’t think he ever envisioned any sort of traffic at all that wasn’t cartoonish. I’ve been to some places…and I won’t go back until they put a dome over them. But enough about that. Let’s jam to some “catching up” beats before I have a great home-cooked sandwich, alright? Aiiiiiight.

  • The Dave Clark Five, “Catch Us If You Can”
  • Elliott Smith, “Let’s Get Lost”
  • The Get Up Kids, “I’ll Catch You”
  • Blur, “Avoid The Traffic”
  • Pearl Jam, “I Believe In Miracles (live)” (Ramones cover)
  • The Beach Boys, “Catch A Wave”
  • New Found Glory, “You’ve Got A Friend In Pennsylvania”
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, “We Call Upon The Author”
  • Public Enemy, “SOC MED Digital Heroin”
  • Busta Rhymes, “Do That Thing”
  • Wilco, “It’s Just That Simple”
  • Ours, “Medication”

Ok, that’s about all I have the patience for today. Sorry the playlist went a little skewed…music happens and if you don’t like it then you don’t like me. Stay tuned for Part 2, which’ll prolly come tomorrow afternoon and will be all kinds of differently entertaining than this might’ve been, if it was. In the meantime, rest up and stay kind to each other. You don’t know who’s going through what anymore…hell, I can barely keep up with myself some days. Peace, be on the lookout in your city for Christa Christa and the Full Force Cult Jam opening at corpse bride weddings for the Sarcastic Assholes as we perform our multi-platinum clusterfuck class-sick “Pour Some Moonshine On Me”, and this place is trying to close so let’s get outta here before they kick us out…just, uhhhh, I guess the apples are free, so take one on the way out. If they’re real.

100, Eliezer Tristan Publishing, Homies, Mental Health, Playlists, Poetry, Road Trip!, Stigma Fighters, support your locals

Surprises! Good times!

Hey hey!! What’s up y’all? Just poppin’ in to share a bit of good news I’ve been slackin’ on. I’ve got some treats up my sleeve and I’m finally feeling comfortable and able to speak on them…

I’ve been asked to attend an Eliezer Tristan Publishing event on May 17th at the Barnes & Noble in W. Hartford…how dope is that? I get to meet some of the recently-published authors, hang out a bit with them, read a little from 100 for those in attendance, and hopefully sell/sign a few copies. And it’s worth noting that I have a history with Connecticut…I had an aunt that lived there and would fly my brother and I down every summer to stay for a week at her condo, until she died of cancer in the early 90’s. Her brother moved down there too at some point, and bought a small but cute little house, but he passed a few years ago and it was up to my mom, my brother, and I to clean out the place and get it ready to be sold (I don’t wanna go into detail, but it was a gory scene). And then I lost that same brother about 2-1/2 years ago. My head turns into a roller coaster rethinking all of these memories and details.

The point is: I’m seeking to recapture good Connecticut memories.

I don’t think that sounds unreasonable! I was going through and dealing with a lot of my own physical and MH-related shit at the time of my uncle’s passing. And I have so so so many great memories of my aunt, grandmother, and great aunt on road trips to CT. This time, however, will be different, and I’m proud and humbled to have been asked to be on the bill.

Now, lemme tell you about some of the other authors that I know’ll be along for the show. I honestly don’t know who is responsible and deserving of the headlining spot…I know it’s not me, because there are a few native CT’ers that are reading. So besides me, in no particular order…

That’s a lineup you can’t front on! I’m like the weakest link, the poetry guy who’s seen too much of the world’s ugliness and just bitches about it through free-verse…I don’t quite belong with these warriors (ok, maybe I’m selling myself a little bit short, having dealt with my own bullshit as far as MH goes). If you’re in the New England area, you should come! You’re gonna learn stuff, meet amazing people, and get signed copies of books that really mean something to you! May 17th, at the Blue Black Square B-to-the-and-to-the-mawfuggin’-N. Come get some!! 7-9pm!! Will we bring treats? I dunno. Maybe. Probably not, but that shouldn’t discourage you from coming anyway.

Speaking of which, what I need from a lot of all y’all is to buy some t-shirts and #NorbAF swag! Travelin’ ain’t cheap, and you know you’d look sweet-ass sweet in one of my t-shirts! When you’re done here, make sure you click on my shop so you can fill your Easter Baskets up with the incredibleness of signed books, t-shirts, pins & stickers, and more. Don’t be scared. It’s a shitty time to be alive in some respects, but there’s also been no better time in history to celebrate, stoke, and encourage the works of Creatives since we’ve (ok, most of us) have been alive and functioning.

Also, hey! I went to my local library today to pick up a book I reserved online and they were like “Hey, yeah, sorry we haven’t responded to you Facebook message yet, but we sent your book to our central processing location and they still have it, but we ordered another copy…are you still interested in having some event during April’s National Poetry Month?” Oh hell fucking yes, y’all! (I did not say that, as I am so much more publicly respectful.) Just waiting on the details.

And, speaking of appearances, my publisher is working on the B&N at the McKinley Mall for a reading or appearance of some sort. No details yet, but you know y’all will be the first to know! Can’t wait to have a sweet and proper homecoming where my mom can come by and my friends and family can get some signed books and we can hang out a little! Super excited about the possibility! Now I just need to set something up at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and I’ll feel all that much more legit. Let’s make something happen, BECPL!!

Ok, I think I’ve done what I set out to do. Let’s end this mumbo-jumbo with a playlist about talking and speaking and all that, so I can post this and take a nap, k?

  • Geto Boys, “Talkin’ Loud Ain’t Sayin’ Nothin'”
  • Wilco, “Speak Into The Rose”
  • Oasis, “Talk Tonight”
  • Beastie Boys, “Make Some Noise”
  • Finch, “Letters To You”
  • Jimmy Eat World, “What Would I Say To You Now”
  • John Lennon, “Nobody Told Me”
  • The Killers, “Somebody Told Me”
  • Geto Boys, “And My Word”
  • De La Soul, “Transmitting Live From Mars”
  • The Dave Clark Five, “Catch Us If You Can”

Alright you fun-ass people…I’ve got dinner goin’ and it’s about time I paid attention to it. You know I love all y’all, so please don’t hesitate to share this with your people (I know some of my people will, or at least I hope they do). Respect!

 

100, Eliezer Tristan Publishing, Getting Published, Holidays, Homies, Mental Health, Playlists, Poetry, Road Trip!, Stigma Fighters

Back Home: The Thanksgiving Edition

Hey everyone! Hope you’ve had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday with friends, family, and loved ones…and you haven’t made life a living hell for them or the poor souls in retail on Black Friday (and having spent my entire life in customer service and retail management, believe me when I say there’s a special place in hell for you if you have). I got back this afternoon from a week at my mom’s back in Western New York, spending time with her and some friends, and while I’m thankful for being able to have done so, it’s also nice again to be back home where I can sleep in my own bed and get back into my routine here (until Christmas comes around next month and I’m back out on the road!).

And what a week it was! Both my beloved Sabres and Bills had some big wins. I spent some time with the homies down at Matty’s Pub, watching the UFC (or is it MMA? I have no clue. [Side note: Outside of a few highlight clips on SportsCenter, I’ve never seen UFC or MMA before…and I’m very clueless about it other than the general premise of watching two people beat the everlovin’ outta each other. So with those expectations and those only in mind, I was not disappointed.]). Matty’s Pub was also the venue of choice for Sunday’s Bills game (where there was also a brawl) but more importantly, this picture hung of my late brother who was a staple behind the basement bar until he passed two years and one week ago today.

Let’s see…what else? I had a run-in with the Subway at the Greyhound station in Syracuse because they made me a breakfast wrap they were incapable of ringing me out properly for, and after informing me I’d basically have to pay double for something other locations have made easily for me in the past and told me I couldn’t use my “Tokens” or whatever their loyalty program is now, got really shitty with me when I told them I didn’t want it (seriously, how much of a corporate hardship is it to slap steak/egg/cheese inside a sun-dried tomato wrap??)…and when I complained to their ownership group about it, got nothing more than an “Ooops, sorry about that, but we talked to the employees and it won’t happen again!”…uhhhh….ya damn right it won’t, cuz I have zero confidence now in your business practices and customer relations (especially when combined with your substandard food offerings in an area where my choices are Subway, Dunkin’, and the in-house bodega with no better selection than the vending machines). So yeah, that sucked.

But…mom and I took 2nd place in Pub Trivia (thanks to a colossal tie after the final question that necessitated a wild stab at the overtime question) on the quote-unquote Biggest Party Night Of The Year. After dinner some of my brother’s friends (ok, I can stop calling them that, because they’re my friends too now) came out for karaoke, where things proceeded to get loud and rambunctious (of course). [Side Note: This is the same place my brother took me to for my 40th birthday, where a very Crown-and Coke’d me vociferously complained about the karaoke DJ not having any Beastie Boys songs in his catalog.] While I am proud to announce that the DJ has made tremendous strides in his offerings, I cannot say with the same enthusiasm that my performance Wednesday night was as exciting.

But hey, fun is fun, am I right? My only regret is that I didn’t get a recording of me doing “Sabotage” also, where my boy said, and I quote, “You’re scaring people.”

Thanksgiving itself was low-key…just mom and I and some turkey and her stuffing (my favorite, and if you say anything other than stuffing in general is your idea of “the best part of Thanksgiving Dinner”, then you’re a cop) and football and me on the couch in my pajamas from morning ’til night. It’s hands-down my favorite meal of the year, along with Second Thanksgiving (the midnight raiding of the leftovers). And Friday was pretty low-key as well, or at least it was until I was tagged in a Facebook post from my publisher announcing the arrival of the Stigma Fighters Anthology Vol. 4 launch on Amazon…which she says is dedicated to me (!!) and not only includes my very first online submission for them, but also three poems that aren’t in 100. How #NorbAF and #dopeAF is that??

And hey, it’s not just me that’s in this amazing collection…I’ve met and/or became friends with quite a few of these people in a very busy and incredible 2018 so far, and it’s worth much more than your time to check out their stories and how we’re all trying to do our part in combating the stigmas surrounding various mental illnesses.

So yeah, it’s been a week y’all! I’m so thankful to have so many exceptional and amazing people in all the many facets of my life who care about me and do beautiful things and kick so much more ass than they even know. For that, I think it’s time to bang out a good ol’ Thanks and I love you playlist! Hit it!!

  • The Tragically Hip, “Courage (For Hugh MacLennan)”
  • Filter, “The Best Things”
  • The Get Up Kids, “Holiday”
  • Mike Doughty, “Thank You, Lord, For Sending Me The F Train”
  • Death Cab For Cutie, “Autumn Love”
  • Franz Ferdinand, “Come On Home”
  • The Killers, “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town”
  • Uncle Tupelo, “I Got Drunk”
  • Hey Mercedes, “Our Weekend Starts On Wednesday”
  • The Black Keys feat. RZA, “The Baddest Man Alive”
  • Hail Mary Mallon, “Grubstake”
  • The Hollies, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”

I understand this playlist may mean very little to you, but it means a lot to me and that’s kinda what counts…my blog, my rules! Anyway, that’s where I’m at…I’m off to take advantage of a couple Writing.com Cyber Monday deals and say what’s up to some friends there. Hope you’re all well, and if not you know where to find me. Much love, friends!

100, Eliezer Tristan Publishing, Homies, Mental Health, Playlists, Poetry, Road Trip!, Stigma Fighters

Home is the new home.

What is UP y’all? Finally back home and spent a night in my own bed for the first time in what feels like forever. I’ve been gone so long that I forgot the channel number of some of the stations I put on for background noise while I’m doing other things…it’s hard to think and get back into a routine when you’ve been all over the country. I guess I’ve said this already (mostly), but this is what my itinerary was for the last 2+ weeks:

  • Cortland -> Syracuse, by bus
  • Syracuse -> Chicago (layover), by plane
  • Chicago -> Portland, OR, by plane
  • Portland -> Seattle, by car
  • Seattle -> Indianapolis, by plane
  • Indy -> Atlanta (layover), by plane
  • Atlanta -> Syracuse, by plane
  • ‘Cuse back home to Cortland, by Lyft

And my body’s exhausted even after crashing once I saw my bed. Good thing I leave a clean house when I travel, so I don’t have to wade through nonsense before I drop. Kinda not happy with myself now though for scheduling a visit with the therapist not even 24 hours after I was due back, but I know I’m a horrible scheduler and I’m trying to get better at it…but that’s another post for another time, my friends.

All I’m gonna say is that I’ve had a blast the last two weeks…being to places I’ve never been to before, eating at different restaurants that aren’t available in my areas locally, meeting and spending time with people I’ve known for years and years because of the internet and picking up just like long-lost friends doin’ their thang-thangs like they always do, and experiencing life in ways I haven’t in so long and/or ways I’d never thought of and may not be ever able to accomplish again. It was much-needed for my soul and my psyche…validation is a hell of a drug!

So now what? Besides remembering what channel ESPN is on and finishing unpacking like the procrastinating wad of jumbled genius brain cables I sometimes become)…I’ve still got some work to do. The hustler never quits on himself, so I’ve lined up a few appearances as a guest blogger and featured author on a few sites, as well as a podcast and more. I can’t give away the store y’all…you’ll just hafta keep posted and pay attention to this kid as he does his thing with the breaks he’s been given and the cracks he got to spring from. It’s gonna be a work week at home, finally, because I feel like I did more work on the West Coast and in Indy than I did the month prior (but to be fair, that month I was gearing up for this trip and allowed myself some unprecedented openness and accountability in my life for a change). Now, I gotta keep the train a-rollin’ while I still have some momentum, and prepare myself for a slowdown of sorts just in case. At least I have something (and many things really, like new friends with similar thoughts/feelings/outlooks/diagnoses) tangible from this chapter of my life where I can say that if it all goes away, this time I own more positive memories and experiences than typical relationships. Every memory is embedded without judgement or shame, and each detail has given me more strength and courage to push forward. How many of you can say the same after a string of broken relationships, ugly losses, or a life that felt overall like bad luck was your hair goo? This is something that can’t and won’t go away, and you want to keep…like a dope tattoo of a time in your life, on your life.

There’s also this, which I’m flat-fuck stoked about:

You wanna signed book? Come get one here, from my website. There are both US and International shipping options, in case you forgot or were wondering.

So yeah, that’s what’s up. Let’s break into a home-themed playlist before I wreck some microwaved food and hit another stellar nap on my own terms, shall we? And if you’re not down with the selections, I suggest you start your own blog not to hate on me, but to show us your variety and eclectic tuneology. I won’t fight you, and I won’t judge you (even if it’s horrible). You tried, and for that I can thank you immensely enough. Rock your own dance party from time to time. Let it all out!

  • Atmosphere, “Always Coming Back Home To You (+ ‘Say Shh’)”
  • Supertramp, “Breakfast In America”
  • The New Amsterdams, “Hover Near Fame”
  • Motley Crue, “Home Sweet Home”
  • Mother Love Bone, “This Is Shangrila”
  • Herman’s Hermits, “I’m Into Something Good”
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Castles Made Of Sand (Jimi Hendrix cover)”
  • Nirvana, “Come As You Are”
  • Madness, “Our House”
  • Moby, “Now I Let It Go”
  • Blur, “Country House”
  • Blink-182, “This Is Home”

Let’s celebrate your home…if you got a roof over your head and the means to keep it, throw your hands up. If home means something entirely different than what you thought when you were a kid, throw them hands up. If home means your family now isn’t your real family, keep them damn hands up. And if home is in your heart, keep your hands to yourselves but put your arms around the people closest to you. Home doesn’t hafta be where you grew up, where you live now, or what you’re even imagining. Home is what you make it. Get settled and find a routine. Your life is your home, even if there ain’t no November turkeys (my favorite holiday, BTW) or Santa Clauses flyin’ around. Work on that, please…while I work on either more tidying up or a nap. My naps in Indy were few and far between, and in Seattle I barely took any (‘cept for that one morning, after walking around like a sodomized penguin). After visiting a few airports, I’ve come to the conclusion that all y’all need to chill in public or GTFO. Jus’ sayin’. Tourists do NOT give a fuck about you and your circle. We’ve got enough on our minds as it is (I’m lookin’ at you and your way too crowded and confined airport). Ok…mini-rant over.

Anyway, thanks for bein’ here and checkin’ this out today…time to get busy! Peace!

100, Eliezer Tristan Publishing, Homies, Mental Health, Playlists, Poetry, Road Trip!

Live from Indianapolis: The Portland/Seattle Edition!

Hello there, fine people of the internet! It’s been awhile, but not because I’m lazy…I’m sittin’ here on the road in my first full day in Indianapolis, fresh from the West Coast (specifically Portland and Seattle). If you’ve been following my journey so far, you’ll remember that the company that was nice enough to publish my book had their launch party last weekend…what a super-fun time that was! The weekend in general was a blasty-blast…not only did I meet in person my team at Eliezer Tristan Publishing , but I got to hang with some new friends from all over the country promoting the brand and raising awareness.

I also read a few pieces from 100 to a live audience, and heard some incredible stories of self-awareness and resilience from other ETP authors. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m still thankful and in awe of the opportunity. I wish I had some video of the event, but all I’ve seen is just Facebook live posts which aren’t very loud.

From there it was on to Seattle to chill with a friend of mine in the Pacific Northwest, and take in many of the sights and whatnot the area has to offer. It was a week of many firsts: first time staying at an Air B&B, first concert I’ve attended in over six years (the Beatles tribute act RAIN at the Washington State Fair, during a torrential downpour no less), first time eating Chick-fil-A and Jack In The Box, and my first open mic experience. I read “Tattooed” and I can’t really explain how gratifying it felt to have complete strangers from my opposite coast applauding my work. It was definitely a new kind of rush for me.

And then all the touristy stuffs one does in the area: the Space Needle, the Fremont Troll under the bridge, and the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop), which had sweet-ass sweet Nirvana and Pearl Jam exhibits. Record stores, book stores, and Pike’s Place Market…where they will physically throw your fish to be wrapped up before you buy it. You know in NY the health department would be all over that like, ummm, scales on fish, tryin’ to shut that down in a hurry. There’d be laws and ordinances and signs up everywhere saying “Throwing Fish Is Punishable Up To A $500 Fine” or some shit. That’s just the way it is.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at for now. Sittin’ back and relaxin’ in Indy, waitin’ to hear back on a few friends in the area to see what’s what with who and where. Let’s cap this post off like we always do in these parts…how about a performance and entertainment playlist? Somethin’ different, with that good ol’ groove shine on it!

  • Marc Bolan & T. Rex, “Cosmic Dancer”
  • Led Zeppelin, “Dancing Days”
  • KRS-One, “Out For Fame”
  • Mission Of Burma, “Fame And Fortune”
  • Eyedea & Abilities, “Sky Diver”
  • Supertramp, “Gone Hollywood”
  • Braid, “Perfect Pitch”
  • Atmosphere, “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer 2”
  • The Beatles, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Love Remix)”
  • Jack White, “Ezmerelda Steals The Show”
  • The Used, “Poetic Tragedy”
  • 10,000 Maniacs, “Stockton Gala Days”

And there you have it! All caught up for now, so I’m done here I think. Time to get this posted and figure out where I’mma head for dinner. Sounds like a plan…hope you’re all well! Peace!

100, Eliezer Tristan Publishing, Homies, Mental Health, Playlists, Poetry, Road Trip!

All booked!!

Hey hey y’all! The World Tour Of Norb is all settled…plane and bus tickets booked, places to stay confirmed, friends on high alert. I’ve got a pocket full of Xanax to get me through the plane anxiety…here is the itinerary, with dates and times:

  • Portland, 9/6-9/10…6:30pm until my friend arrives on the 10th
  • Seattle, 9/10-9/16…when we get there and stop at the WA State Fair for RAIN, a Beatles cover band
  • Indianapolis, 9/16-9/24…6pm Sunday til a crazy early checkout time the following Monday

Hear that y’all? If you’re in those neighborhoods, give me a shout. I’ll read in your bookstores and libraries. I will pontificate in your coffee shops. I will pretend that my poetry heals the sick and curses demons in the living rooms of the frightened non-believers. I’m also available for napping on your couch, petting your animals, riling up your kids before bedtime, and talking all hours into the night while avoiding my own problems/issues/discretion. Fun times, yo!

And that’s my word y’all…straight from the publishing company’s CEO…

WHAT UP Y’ALL?! Come on out!! Go explore at the college named for explorers…find poets and writers you’ve never seen before. That’s what life’s about, right? New experiences! I’m fortunate to be able to do this, because it’s something I was only able to fantasize about for a long time. Now I can! And I’mma make the most of it…because it may never happen again. Unless…

I know after I get home and relax a bit, I’ll wanna hit some friends up along the east coast. I’ve got friends I’d love to see between NJ and FL, and this might be the time of year to do it before it gets too cold and gross outside with snow and whatnot. Also, while I’m in the travelin’ mood.

But let’s see what happens, ok? Haven’t had a door closed on me in awhile (besides the debacle in Seattle where there are three month waiting lists for authors to stop in and get books signed). And I’m still getting no love from Buffalo indie shops. What happened to the city of good neighbors? What’s up with the expat ignoring…ohhhhhh never mind. Didn’t realize Talking Leaves closed up. Dammit…who doesn’t have stories of the indie book shops or record shops they used to wander aimlessly through while spending half a paycheck at the end? *waves hand*

Alright, let’s stuff a playlist in here. Some sorta travel nonsense. Or just straight beloved nonsense, which is the best kinda nonsense ever.

  • Chris Cornell, “Mission 2000”
  • Beastie Boys, “What Comes Around”
  • Atmosphere, “7th Street Entry”
  • Ramones, “Outsider”
  • Lo-Fidelity Allstars, “How To Operate With A Blown Mind”
  • Buck 65, “1957”
  • Bob Dylan, “Going, Going, Gone (live at Budokan}”
  • Counting Crows, “American Girls”
  • Fun., “Carry On”
  • Billy Bragg & Wilco, “I’m Out To Get”
  • Felt, “Protagonists”
  • The Beatles, “We Can Work It Out”

Alright my peoples…that’s my word. One more time, I wanna ask you to help out Eliezer Tristan Publishing so we can confirm the surprise guest headliner…drop a few bucks in their digital PayPal bucket so we can get my man to do his thing after I do my thing. I don’t wanna give away the secrets of the industry, but this individual has a tremendous following and requires a fair amount of cash to spread his good vibes amongst the crowd. I will be in that same crowd across the country…let’s make it happen!!

Ok, I’m done here. I got stuff to answer to, food (a sandwich, with veggies) to eat, a nap to take, a Mets game to agonize over, and setting up priorities for packing and printing itineraries for the next couple weeks. Peace y’all…you know I love you!

100, Eliezer Tristan Publishing, Mental Health, Playlists, Poetry, Road Trip!

Less Than A Week!!

Greetings and salutations, party people…what’s up? Again, my sincerest apologies for not being around much lately. I’ve just had a lot going on and I’m happy to share some of that with you…but first:

The Eliezer Tristan Launch Party is less than a week away!!

And that means on Thursday I’ll be taking my first-ever cross-country flight from Syracuse, NY to Portland, OR. How friggin’ exciting is that? I still have so much to do to get ready for it, but I’m not stressing out about it. I’ve got a pocketful of Xanax waiting for me as I hop on a plane (I’m a terrible flyer) and I’ve got a head swimming with anticipation and wonder. I’m gonna be meeting people for the first time in person after speaking with them for so long over emails and phone convos…pretty freakin’ wild. I soooooo cannot wait y’all!

Ok let’s see…what else have I been up to? My friend Michelle from Seattle flew in to visit me last week, and that was a lot of fun! A big step for me, letting someone other than the maintenance workers and my mom in my apartment, let alone stay overnight. The big highlight of the visit was going down to the Cortland Repertory Theatre for The Rat Pack Lounge, a wonderfully entertaining play about Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. coming down from heaven to help a struggling bar owner. Don’t we look grand?

Anyway, it was good to have a nice break from worrying about life for awhile so I could spend it with someone so amazing, doing things you just can’t do when you’re by yourself. Not that I have a problem with dining out alone or going to certain places, but having such a fun and wonderful person accompanying me is something I hadn’t experienced in so long and lemme tell you, it still rocks!

And that brings me back to my upcoming travels. I’m not sure how long I’m gonna be in Portland (I arrive the evening of the 6th, and the launch party is Saturday the 8th). I do believe there may be a visit to Powell’s (a Portland bookstore) but I’m not sure when. And from there, Michelle is driving down from Seattle and we’re gonna roadtrip it back to her area for a few days. Again, no set timetable. I’ve got no agenda other than maybe hitting a few places for readings and whatnot, with tentative plans to see the greatest Beatles tribute band, RAIN, at the fairgrounds they’ve got over there. I’ve already seen them a few times in an indoor theatre setting, so it’ll be nice to see them in something different.

Let’s switch gears for a minute and pump some tires…Eliezer Tristan Publishing is doing and has been doing some amazing stuff the last couple weeks, as far as dropping new releases and hooking up different authors with plans to publish their works. That makes me hella excited for them, and to see the ETP family grow! Richard De Fino’s book just came out, and he now makes his home in my hometown of Buffalo…how cool is that, that a west coast publishing company was able to snag not one, but two Buffalonians? It’s another one of those wild unsolved mysteries, and all I can say is Buffalo is ripe for mining talent, yo. Get down there and just soak it all right in. We’re more than chicken wings, snow, and the Goo Goo Dolls.

And here’s a little somethin’ for you people who need some visualization…ETP now has a YouTube Channel which you should definitely be subscribing to, not only for more info on this amazing non-profit, but for dope videos like this:

And lastly, there’s the issue of fundraising…I can’t stress enough how much ETP is doing for the mental health community in general, as well as putting peoples’ stories out there in hopes of erasing all of the many stigmas surrounding mental illness. We’re not quote-unquote crazy. We’re not the human equivalent of Looney Tunes. We’re strong, accepting, caring, thoughtful people who have been through so much that dealing with it all is like trying to peel an onion without crying, but inside the onion is more onion and suddenly all of life is onions that you can keep peeling until you learn how to make an often socially unacceptable onion salad, which you need to buy into before you can convince your locals that it isn’t that bad because it’s still a vegetable and with the right dressing it’s rather palatable. That’s my life. That’s getting to know me when you think mental illness is some contrived psychologist bullshit. While I’m usually easy to get along with, getting me to that stage of meeting and trusting someone is downright hard. I feel like I’m constantly trying to convince people I’m ok, and I have to work at least 10x harder to gain reciprocal trust. But enough about me…my man Ricky will tell you why ETP is a great organization to spread some love to. And ETP is also on Patreon with some dope hauls for anyone/everyone who donates to the cause…check it out, because it’s worth your time and energy. That’s my word.

Ok, so while I’m doing some other nonsense that means nothing to you but almost everything to me, let’s crack out an excitement and scared and thrilled playlist via my iPod, ok? Got it? Let’s go!

  • The Tragically Hip, “Scared”
  • Gerry & The Pacemakers, “Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey”
  • Pearl Jam, “Fortunate Son (live, Buffalo 5/2/03)”
  • Regina Spektor, “Edit”
  • Blackpool Lights, “This Town’s Disaster”
  • Mudhoney, “Pokin’ Around”
  • Oasis, “Half The World Away”
  • Big D & The Kids Table, “Moment Without An End”
  • Tears For Fears, “Shout”
  • The Tragically Hip, “Freak Turbulence”
  • Arctic Monkeys, “Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured”
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, “Clap Your Hands!”

Ok you and your friends and your parents and their friends, I love you all but I have other stuff to do today and it’s not like I’m ignoring you but yeah, life’s a bit wild (I hate that I keep using that word) right now, and I’m trying to enjoy it while I can (before it goes away). Plus, I need to make a sandwich and eat the coldcuts that are in my fridge before I hafta leave. Peace, share me with your friends, thank you all for still being here, and, ummm, just, thanks.

100, Getting Published, Playlists, Road Trip!

NO SLEEP TIL…PORTLAND!!!

Yes yes y’all! What’s happenin’? The flight is booked, the couch has been made available, and come September 6th I’ll be in Portland, OR for the Eliezer Tristan Publishing launch party! The West Coast Summer Of Norb Tour is in full effect…don’t get a late pass; be on the go with me!

From Portland I’m heading to Seattle to sightsee and chill with a friend. I’d love the idea of swinging down to Vegas to meet some people I know there and then to Cali for a day or two or three, before trippin’ back with a stop at Indiana for more people, and then heading home before I plot the East Coast trip.

My life is mad wicked crazy right now.

You can’t front on that.

So hey, hook me up with your city and let’s hang out, West Coasters! Tell me where and when in September is good…I imagine I’ll spend a few days in Seattle after the 8th, so name your options and let’s see what happens!

In the meantime…let’s bang around to a little West Coast playlist, alright? Alright.

  • Interpol, “Heinrich Maneuver”
  • Modest Mouse, “The World At Large”
  • Nirvana, “Lounge Act”
  • Soundgarden, “Room A Thousand Years Wide”
  • Jawbox, “Breathe”
  • 7 Year Bitch, “You Smell Lonely”
  • Alice In Chains, “Grind”
  • Felt, “Bass For Your Truck”
  • Beastie Boys, “High Plains Drifter”
  • Pearl Jam, “Hard To Imagine”

That’s my word, individuals doing your own things. Peace, and don’t forget to get at me if you want me to read in your city yo. Much love…ttyl.

100, Getting Published, Playlists, Road Trip!, support your locals

The “Summer Of Norb” Tour Continues!

 

Hey folks! What’s happenin’? So much goin’ on lately…I don’t even know where to begin! Just got back from spending another week hangin’ out at my mom’s…

…because birthdays are good and oh also there was a little matter of catching up with some friends and signing some books. Played a round of miniature golf with an old friend and her adorable little daughter, ate tons of WNY staples (Sahlen’s hot dogs, chicken wings, Bison chip dip, etc.), dropped off a copy of 100 at the Arcade library, and took in many of the familiar sights and sounds of home.

Along the way, there was no shortage of good news!

I finally received word that my website is (for the most part) complete and ready for your viewing! Norbaikin.com has links to this blog, my Writing.com portfolio, my publisher’s site, Amazon’s 100 link, and other assorted goodies…and we’re in the process of setting up the means to buy signed copies of the book directly from there. How sweet is that?

And if you’re disappointed that I didn’t get to see you this past week because you don’t live close, fear not! Eliezer Tristan Publishing (located in Oregon) is having their launch party on September 8th…West Coast, here I come! Forty-three years after I invaded the eastern portion of the United States and set up shop in NY, I’m finally getting over to the left side of the country. Besides Portland, Seattle is on the itinerary as well…and if you want me to make a stop in your city and it has a bookstore, cafe, or other venues interested in hosting a slightly irreverent and occasionally aloof poet from the part of NY hardly anyone talks about (but when they do they’re talkin’ proud) then you need to get at me so we can set somethin’ up! I promise I’ll try to be as well-behaved as I possibly can be.

So yep, that’s been my life for the past week or so…couch-surfin’ at mom’s and talkin’ books and gettin’ tatted up at a longtime friend’s tattoo shop…

For those curious, “Na Zdrowie!” is basically a Polish toast, and Doug is my brother who passed away almost two years ago. It was important to me to have a way to remember him that we could both appreciate, and having the work done by someone we both knew well was imperative. It was one of his favorite things to say when hoisting up another shot (usually Jack Daniels Fire), with the other obviously being “Drink up, fuckers!” While we may not have always been raised proper or right, we were raised fun and mom’s still proud.

Alright, how about a launch playlist? It’s my favorite part of each entry!

  • T. Rex, “Spaceball Ricochet”
  • Atmosphere, “The Arrival”
  • Pearl Jam, “Light Years”
  • Beastie Boys, “Intergalactic”
  • The Who, “I Can See For Miles”
  • Jimmy Eat World, “77 Satellites”
  • Something Corporate, “The Astronaut”
  • Aesop Rock, “Bring Back Pluto”
  • Radiohead, “Subterranean Homesick Alien”
  • Smashing Pumpkins, “Rocket”

I think that’s all there is to say for now…thanks to everyone I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with this week, whether talking writing or reminiscing or just being. Peace! I’ll catch up with all y’all again soon!

100, Getting Published, Playlists, Road Trip!

Let’s take this road on the show!

Hey y’all! I know it’s been awhile since we’ve been here…I’ve been trying to soak it all in and see what’s coming next for me. Let’s do a quick recap, if you don’t mind…

Mom got her copy of 100 and she’s mega-proud, because I’ve finally done something with my life.

The book is doing well…so well in fact, that I’m gonna take a trip out to Portland, from Central NY, for a launch party. And there ain’t no party like a Portland party cuz a Portland party don’t stop. Or something. It’s fitting though that this long road I’ve been on between struggle and grief and sacrifice and pain and the doubts of not knowing…will get not only a showcase but a decent full-scale celebration as part of the Eliezer Tristan launch. Crazy, I know…but still a lotta work to do on my end, promotion-wise.

Then there’s these…thanks to my man Aaron, better known as Cultural Savage…postcards and handouts. Yes, it’s a 5-picture IG album. Get on it or get over it.

It’s all so overwhelmingly awesome. And it’s also scary…dealing with depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia means travel can often be uncomfortable and hella stressful. I usually travel by bus (primarily from CNY to my mom’s in Western New York, so relatively short distances), but it never fails…something always seems to go wrong when I take the Greyhound, which makes me even more miserable and uncomfortable. I’m not happy and settled until I get to where I’m supposed to be, and it drives me nuts, which also drives me nuts in turn that it drives me nuts. Call it a perpetual cycle of nut-driving, if you will.

But flying? Flying definitely freaks me out, and I don’t know why. Add to it that I’ll be meeting a lot of really cool people for the first time…and that’s like anxiety’s perfect cocktail. But hey, let’s throw in the unpredictability of fibro…waking up not knowing what’s gonna hurt, or when or why or how much and for however long (for example, a few days ago I managed to cramp up both my calves just trying to get out of bed and I’m still working through that) so yeah, super-sized cocktail. Yesterday I was fine until I took a shower, and one side of my neck started bothering me. Today, it’s the other side…the kind of pain where you have to turn your whole body to look to the side, and that’s really inconvenient when you’re trying to cross the street. My body’s a roulette wheel and the house always wins.

But fuck it…I’m determined to make this one of the best experiences of my life, one way or another. I’m gonna get to see the Pacific Northwest, hang out with a great team of people who have all contributed to this new saga in my life in one way or another, and I’ll get to share my words with an entirely new audience. I’m not gonna let my body stop me as long as I can manage myself long enough for the trip, and I’ll figure out a way to override my brain when the creeping doubts and toxic thoughts about backing out begin to seep in. This is my shot. I’ve got to make the most of it and see what happens…it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience in an existence dotted with negative “only this would happen to me” situations.

With that said, let’s launch into another playlist, huh? Good tunes…anthem-quality sing-alongs and road trip essentials (well, at least my essentials), and just me, trying to remember the things I’ve learned about Mindfulness and staying in the moment:

  • Eminem, “Lose Yourself”
  • Redman feat. Erick Sermon, “Whateva Man”
  • The Beatles, “Help!”
  • Wilco, “Sunloathe”
  • T. Rex, “Thunderwing”
  • The Killers, “This River Is Wild”
  • Better Than Ezra, “Normal Town”
  • The Drifters, “This Magic Moment”
  • Further Seems Forever, “Hide Nothing”
  • William DeVaughn, “Be Thankful For What You Got”
  • Karen O and the Kids, “Rumpus”
  • Hail Mary Mallon, “Knievel”

As always, this is my music and if you don’t like it, remember, I didn’t invite you! And I’m pretty sure my iPod is still louder and cooler than your Spotify or TIDAL or whatever it is the cool kids do for music these days. But I still love you! Thanks and peace and hope you’re all well!