For the last few months, I’ve been working as a bartenders at the Whip In in South Austin. These crazy folks have accepted me as a member of their family, and I am so grateful.
I am a grown ass man in my forties. I have worked all kinds of manual labor jobs & customer service jobs, and I can say without a doubt that this has been one of the best. The folks I have met here have been some of the most creative diverse bunch of intelligent group of cool folks I’ve ever met in any single one place.
In the last few years, I have lost everything, have racked up tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt, I’ve foreclosed on a house I owned briefly, I wrecked my first and only brand new car I’d ever bought and owned, and I quit a couple of potential careers I’d worked very hard at.
And I’m really happy about it all.
In the last couple of years, I got way too close to being homeless. More so than I’d ever done, and during this little life of mine, I’ve lived in my car, I’ve crashed at the YMCA in Pasadena, CA, I’ve squatted at my recently deceased uncle’s apartment in Paris, and I’ve had to eat at several shelters throughout the years, as well as steal food from plenty of grocery stores.
In the last couple of years, I’ve worked endless and thankless hours trying to become a real estate agent, only to find out after being offered a great position in the profession that I didn’t want anything to do with it. And after all of it, I decided to do what I’ve known I should have done ever since I’ve been a young boy of ten years of age—I’ve known all this time amazingly enough—that what I needed to do was to be a writer, for better or for worse.
“This is a hard road you’re going on,” my mom says to me the other night.
“Yep,” I said in response.
But I’m in my forties, and if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it, I think.
When I first published it in 2006 with the help of my friend Claire Khelfaoui, I knew it wasn’t done. In 2013, I started reworking on my long poem “Blueberry Hill” with the help of the poet Nick Courtright—meant to be an integral section of Beer Songs from the get go—and after I finished that rewrite, talking with Nick, I was like, why don’t I rewrite the rest of the book as well, make it the best that I can make it? And it took me almost two years to do just that. But boy am I proud of this second edition.
Now I am working on my second book, “From There Onward,” a collection of short stories. I feel this book is the sister book to Beer Songs, as I worked on many of these stories at the same time that I was working on the poems from Beer Songs. Those were the years that I lived in Paris, France, from 1997-2004, where I wrote a ton of stuff, but somehow never managed to finish anything.
I’ve had quite a ride so far, on this little planet of ours, and I hope to share some of my ups and downs with you in the next few months, as well as some new adventures.