The Gonzo Journals
April 19th, 2023
Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away…
Actually, it was almost twenty years ago in a town one hour away.
I can see how it’s easy to get those things mixed up. Anyway, I knew someone by the name of Steven King. No, not THE Stephen King, but I’m sure he had a lot of redundant fun in his life which led to the annoyance of explaining the differences repeatedly. Geez that had to suck. There’s another horror author out there named Chad Miller which is why my former agent suggested the pen name of C. Derick Miller. Anyway, Steve asked me time and time again:
“Why do you insist on using your writing abilities for ranting and raving? Why can’t you use your powers for “good”?
At the time, I was just trying to keep up with my lifestyle. I was married to a chick who thought she was Morticia Addams, and our home was decorated for Halloween 365 days a year. We’d started a paranormal investigation team and were being featured in newspapers and magazine articles. We were even invited to spend the night in Six Flags Over Texas to hunt the legendary ghost of Annie. With that being said, why would I write good, wholesome stuff to throw off the dogs who were constantly sniffing our butts? Marketing, bitches.
Eventually, I found what I was looking for in the paranormal field and walked away. Also, I walked away from the marriage. That’s a long story, but a typical one as well. If you’ve been following me long enough, you know. She did bad and I met it with worse. What can I say? I had to see what all the fuss was about. Cheating is obviously the greatest thing on Earth because so many have done it to me over the years. It was my turn. Honestly? It sucked. I felt/still feel like I killed part of my soul. Not for the damage I did to her already damaged psyche, but for how I personally let myself down. I was better than that. I still am. Unfortunately, you can never go back.
Every misstep in life brings you to where you are today. Some of them are embarrassing while others are downright disgusting and will define your life in the eyes of others for years to come. In the case of my hometown? Decades. No one forgets shit in Greenville, Texas. I’m still pissed at a girl for kicking me in the balls in second grade.
Of course, my disgusting life choices from 2016 until 2019 were drowned in a sea of alcohol. I recall only flashes of it, and usually it’s deep in the dark night when I’m trying to sleep. That’s when the memories creep in. When you least expect them. They want you to ponder your bad choices while the movie of your life is projected on the ceiling above your bed. What most see as a white popcorn ceiling is the darkest, foulest film ever created. Don’t worry. I don’t have a popcorn ceiling. I was just using it as an example. A poor one at that.
Since 2019, I’ve begun to turn my life around thanks to my wife Samantha. Not only did she believe there is good inside me, but she also allowed me the freedom to explore it. How? She took me by the hand and showed me my potential. Not necessarily my FULL potential – because I have yet to achieve it – but more potential than I ever thought possible.
Since then, I’ve remarried, began fathering a young child again, written some of my best work to date, and found sobriety. I’m officially one week away from not drinking for a whole year and it’s paid off. Entities reach out to me for writing projects now rather than me chasing the illusive best seller through half assed publishers or associating with pseudo artists who beg for attention on social media. Most importantly, I’m being myself rather than pretending to be somebody else. I know it’s difficult to do so in the days of Facebook where anyone can be whoever they want to be, but I’ve been there, done that. I didn’t like who I was mimicking. I took a brave step in the opposite direction and kept walking.
In the last month, I’ve officially finished writing my very first videogame with talk of more to come. I was even paid up front for my work, which is something few in my field could ever state truthfully. That amount was twice as much as what some of the financial delusions many of my colleagues claim to be worth when requesting their participation in collected works. It floored me, yet I quickly recovered and kicked literary ass all the way to the bank.
I’m not bragging; I feel as though I’ll never be good enough to do so. Still, life is short, and everyone needs to reach for those golden rings with every rotation of the carousel. Now, I’m just along for the ride, laughing like a child in a world which insists monotonous adulthood is the norm. To celebrate, I took a huge chunk of my royalties and created an arcade corner of my living room. It was the Silver Spoons fantasy I dreamed of as a child minus the miniature train. Instead, I drive one of those on the weekends. A big one. Somewhere between my writing desk and the kitchen is a little piece from the 1980’s that’s mine all mine. Time travel is possible, and I smile at it whenever I go downstairs. Did I do something productive with my tiny smidgen of success? You bet your ass I did. Productivity resides within the eye of the beholder, not the nosey, general public.
I’ve spent decades attempting to please the masses because that’s what the music and movies of my upbringing insisted. It was imperative to be cool, beautiful, and well like by any and all you came in contact with. Un-fucking-true, eighties. Not even by a long shot. I swallowed my pride and decided to see what it was like to please myself for a change. No, I’m not talking about jerking off. I’ve been doing that since day one. Just ask my mother. She’ll be super excited to tell you the “gum ball” story from my childhood.
What I mean is that you must look within to find your own smile. No one anywhere is going to be able to provide that for you. You can buy all the stuff in the world, sleep with everything that moves, and inject as much artificial happiness as your veins can stand…but it’s all a mirage. Outsiders may not know the difference, but you do, and that’s what truly matters. When was the last time you did something for YOU? How long has it been since you reached a personal goal? Do you ever plan to fulfill that promise you made to yourself as a young child? Dreams are the queue lines for life’s rollercoasters. Even if it appears broken when your moment arrives, you didn’t spend all that time standing there for nothing, did you? Fix that fucker, brave the loops, blast through the valleys, and grin all the way to the bottom of the hills.
Life is a ride, and you’ll miss all the good parts if you insist on doing so with your eyes closed. Wouldn’t you rather be happy when they take your photo instead of looking like a screaming, squint-eyed wreck? It’s up to you. Your family and friends, if you’re lucky to have any, are going to rummage through your shit when you die to compile a slide show put to the music they “thought” you liked. That photo will be included. Guaranteed. Smile, fuckers. Smile.
To my old friend Steven King, wherever you are…is that positive enough for you?
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