Every year, on my birthday, I check to make sure it’s still there.
Every year, it is, and my heart is both torn and comforted.
It was the first thing I ever knew, and over the years has become a part of me. I think that without it, I would be lost.
Every year, for my birthday, I take it, wrap it up in pretty paper, and give it back to her, but I could do that a thousand times and it would still be here inside of me. It makes me who I am… but I do wonder what it would be like if it were gone.
Inside is the very first thing I was ever given, and something I carry with me even today. Even more today.
I didn’t have any words to voice what I felt, couldn’t make sense of it as the heartbeat and smell and warmth that let me feel that I would be safe was ripped away and I was torn out of the arms that for fifteen minutes kept the cold of the world away forever.
I would take it out, put it in a small box, wrap it up in pretty paper and hand it to her. Inside is something bigger than she is or can ever be, but something that over years and years made me stronger than I ever could have otherwise been. It takes a lot to hold the pieces together for so long.
She would open it up every year on my birthday.
Inside would be the baby’s pain.
Sunday afternoon, vending FLUX MetalWear at the ‘Costume & Magical Treasure Sale’ hosted by Professor Violet (Scott Levkoff), I was called into the position of caretaker for a friend who had a little bit too much of this, that, and the other, and was feeling the excess in a bad way. After Scott directed this person (who shall remain name & gender-less to protect them from even more embarrassment) to his bathroom, I was called to go keep an eye on them, making sure they were alright while Scott kept an eye on my jewelry. What followed was a few different, purely accidental, science experiments. Results of experiment #1 – The adjustment of eyes from sunlight to a dark basement: Not as fast as I would have hoped. Results of experiment #2 – Walking on air with no preparation: Complete failure. Due to experiment #1, I didn’t see that there were two steps that went down, and I missed them both. It’s quite a surprise when you expect solid ground to be there to stop your foot, but instead your whole 180ish pounds just kind of falls forward and doesn’t stop until there is ground, far further down than you had expected. After everything including me stopped moving and falling in this cluttered space (which, by the way, made me completely change the opinion that my apartment was cluttered), I performed a quick mental check: Bones, okay. Wrists, hands, just a little sore, but nothing that would prevent me from working. Outside left upper thigh – Ow, FUCK! I’d hit it on something, but at most I figured it would be yet another epic bruise and some swelling. I can live with that.
I get up and go check on my friend in the bathroom, who now, thankfully, seems to be doing much better. As I’m asking them questions about what they need to have done, I had rubbed my ouchie on my thigh just to see how it was doing, and pulling my hand away, noticed that it was a bit stickier than it should have been, and rubbing my thumb and fingers together, noticed a viscosity that I am far too familiar with. I think – it’s been about two or three minutes since the fall, and already soaked through my tights, skirt lining and outer lace. Right about then I notice something dripping down my leg. Oh, hell. I can’t dwell on that right now – I’ll find out what the damage is to me after I take care of my friend. With my right hand I pull my phone out of my left breast pocket of my tails coat to call someone to pick them up, trying to get the number right but because this person would not SHUT UP with their apologies and such it took me three times to finally get the right number. I hand them my phone, they leave a voice mail, and then keeping my left hand mostly hidden I send a text. They’re on the toilet and messages have been sent, For the moment, that’s all that can be done for them. Finally, I look at my left hand. Crap. That’s not a little bit of blood. I walk the few steps away from the bathroom to the place where gravity and I had our disagreement, and find what must have been the culprit – the corner of an innocent looking mini-amp, just sitting there as if nothing has happened, the bastard. When I turn back around I notice that I’m bleeding a bit more than I originally thought. Where I stood by the bathroom there’s a literal pool of blood, and full left footprints of my Docs all the way to where I’m standing now, creating another pool. I lift up my skirt and pull down my tights (which would sound kinda sexy in a different scenario) to get a read on what’s happened and make sure that no arteries have been harmed in the making of this science experiment. I need to know if it’s straight to the ICU, or I can dress it at home.
At this point I notice that my entire leg is saturated with my blood, and where the tights are tucked into my boot there is a doughnut of blood that hasn’t leaked out. From past experience, I figure that this is where some of it has congealed. Fun fun fun! In a strange semi-contortion so I can see the back of my thigh, I realize what has happened: I hit the amp with enough force that it ripped back the epidermis in a triangular shape, like the skin peeling off of an over-ripe peach, exposing the raw muscle below. So this is what it’s like to be flayed! Ya learn something new every day – though honestly, I could have been happy not knowing what it actually felt like. Okay, I don’t need to go to the emergency room – from my time in hospice, I still have a bit of ultra high-tech dressings, absorbent pads, and these weird pads that turn into a type of gelatinous skin – enough to get me by for the time. If I went to the ER, it would take them 5 hours to do what I can do at home, and besides – I need to get back to my dog. Trying to find someone to get my keys, take care of and feed her and get my keys back to me would be a logistical nightmare, and I don’t even know who I could call to ask. I try to help Scott clean me off the floor, but everywhere I step I leave another foot print and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Thankfully almost everything I’m wearing is black, and my boots are good ol’ Doc Marten oxblood. I can pack up without people noticing and get out of there. I don’t like people fussing over me.
Getting home, I pull off my boots, skirt and tights, starting in my living/bed room then realizing how stupid that is, going to stand in the tub. The amount of blood is impressive! I wash the wound, spray some wound cleaner on it, then put on an absorbent pad, wrap it tightly in gauze, and wash as much blood as I can out of my clothes. Ten minutes later it finally begins to thin and the water going down the drain is pink instead of a deep crimson.
It’s time for some sleep. I set the alarm for intervals of three hours because I’m still bleeding and a bit concerned about not waking up again – but we’ll just have to see. Making sure I cover everything that matters most, I write an email to a friend I can depend on and set it so it gets sent in 9 hours, saying that if he receives this to call my building manager to be let in and check on me – and if worse comes to worse, find someone to take care of Ruby. I give a few names of people I trust to find a good home for her. I then set a reminder to cancel the email if it isn’t necessary. I really hope it isn’t. I drink as much coconut water as I can, eat the rest of my spinach and take a bunch of my “Blood Builder” herbal pills, much more than I should under normal circumstances – but these are far from normal. I dig around and try to find things to eat that might help my body, and lacking most anything really helpful, make myself some oatmeal. Need to do what I can to help my body produce at least a little energy… Over the bandages I put on my sweats, fold a bath towel in quarters, lay down and read until I fall asleep. It’s been quite a day.
Waking up I notice that the left leg of my sweats are saturated, and getting up see that all four layers of the towel have been bled through to the comforter. Standing up I take a read on how I’m feeling: Still doing alright it seems, not light-headed, thinking doesn’t seem to be any worse than usual. My leg isn’t cold, only some pain at the wound. I change into my other pair of sweats and fold up a new towel and lay down again. Still, even with all I’ve been through in past years, I’ve never seen this much blood coming out of a person. At least not one that lived.
The next morning, Monday, the bleeding has slowed but not yet stopped. I stand up – and now, it’s there. I’m lightheaded and a tiny bit nauseous. My brain isn’t getting enough blood. No good. I leave a message for my primary care doc and he gets back to me quickly. He’s been my doctor for about 13 years now, and has seen, more than anyone, what I am capable of. He worries, but he knows that I know my body, am not stupid – and am one hell of a warrior. So tomorrow after 1pm, I go to urgent care in *my* hospital building, not the main one. Somewhere I feel comfortable, and will likely know a couple of the people – and most importantly, they’ll know me. I’ll let you know what happens.
Results of accidental blood loss experiment: After three saturated legs of clothing, two saturated quarter-folded towels, pools of blood on the floor and some soaked into my car seat as well as an unknown quantity washed down the bathtub drain, I finally feel light-headed. WARNING: DO NOT TRY TO DUPLICATE THIS AT HOME.
My toes hang over the precipice as I stare down into the
void, each year hoping that this time it might be different, that I won’t fall
into that vast chasm of loneliness in my heart, that this time, maybe, I’ll
walk home feeling less alone than when I walked there. Maybe I’ll break through
my shyness and meet a woman I might eventually find love in, maybe I’ll meet a
stranger and through good conversation see the promise of a true friend.
This year, maybe I’ll find my way out of the shadows.
In the green room we again say our rushed hello’s and how
are you’s as they all get ready for the night – the majority of the people living
less than ten miles away, yet still I only see at most a few times a year, and
then only at events. Again the questions invade my mind, wondering who I am to
them, and who they are to me.
Though in conversation I would call many of them friends
just for ease of description, I hold that title with a certain reverence – and with
the exception of a scant few I wonder and doubt if it holds true any longer.
Perhaps once upon a time it did, but now, these days, I feel as if I am nothing
more than an apparition from the past, chained to their present and still
trying to belong in a place I don’t anymore.
Each year I walk out my door with the hope that maybe this
time, it will be different – but each year I walk home, again alone, again
feeling lonelier than I was on my way there.
There was a time when I changed my life completely around
somewhat frequently, a time where I earned and lived my chosen name of Flux –
but that person was lost somewhere in the eighteen months in hospice and years
after, teaching myself to walk again and rebuilding the atrophied muscle. All I
was anymore was the guy who fought death and won.
Now it’s time to be someone different. It’s time to change.
Time to let go of the past and who I was, and become, again, someone new.
Something new to be known for – and possibly, be remembered for.
It’s time to step back from the edge of this oppressive loneliness, meet new people, and in the process earn my name again, and again make my dreams into reality.
I avoid the mirror, the bloodshot eyes stained from the tears brought by years of frustration, I look instead inside, searching for an answer, a reason. Some sort of justification. Anything. The energy it took, the agonizing pain I forced myself to get past or swallow or get through, the stench of my own flesh decomposing, rotting away on my legs… So many times I could have stopped fighting, so many times I wanted to. It wouldn’t have taken more than a few weeks until I went away, and if the pain got too unbearable I had the pills stashed. An hour at most, into one last dream – and then nothing but a name forgotten in time.
But I had hope. I believed that things could be better. That they would be.
How wrong I was.
So now, I search inside for the passion the rage the anger that i have found and hold so dear
I search for the love, a reason, a purpose…
but these past months the deeper i go the less i find and the less i find a reason to go on.
Seven years since I left the hospice, seven years fighting against the current, trying desperately to make it to calm water… and for what? For THIS fucking life? This life, where loneliness eats away at my heart, where I seldom know where the next meal is coming from, where I can’t even pay my bills. This is not what I fought for. Not what I lived for – and I can’t help but think, at times, that I made a mistake.
But here I am. If it was a mistake, it’s already been made, and it’s far too late to give up now. Maybe tomorrow I’ll sell some jewelry, maybe I’ll soon finally be able to buy a car so I can not only do the things I need for my business to make it grow, but escape this city and just drive until I find a place – a beach or forest somewhere, alone, where I can find my heart again.
I’ve been away from the words for a while, but my mind has been far from idle. Now, it’s time again to start writing. It’s the only place I find solace, comfort, answers, as if I was sitting outside on an old wooden porch talking with an old man or woman who offered their wisdom, who made me think. It’s the old black man sitting in his rocking chair that I created as a child – someone to go to in my mind all the times I had no one else…
I’ve been thinking about what I want, what I have *always* wanted, and realizing now that, for the first time in a life that has been spent looking for something secure and solid yet at the same time being afraid of anything that was – I now have that. At least, I have the possibility and option to make what I want in this life finally happen – a creative business that knows no end to growth, that can make people feel better about themselves and empowers them, and through my past experiences, I have something unique to offer that no one else can – the strength I found inside of me from fighting for my dreams to fighting for my life – and that strength goes into every piece of jewelry I design. Through my business and the direction I see it going, I want to empower women. I’ve seen far too often women trying to make themselves as small and unnoticeable as possible, walking as quickly as they can with their arms wrapped around their chest and head hanging down, doing as much as they can to get into a fetal position while still moving forward.
I want them to remember the strength they have inside of them, to understand how powerful they truly are. I want them to celebrate their beauty, and hold their heads high.
I want people to be afraid of the women I dress.
I’ve taken a long look at my life, what it has been and what it could be, and a decision has been made.
I know where I’m going, and I’m going to call upon the same will, determination, and courage that I found when I was fighting like hell for my life in the hospice to make this into what I know it could be. What it WILL be.
It’s time for everything to change. Again.
I’ve become complacent, undisciplined – and I need to come back.
I’ve read countless books on motivation, habits, procrastination, visualizing, raising energy, and anything that I thought would help. Some were crap, many got me inspired – for a couple days. I could never follow through like I used to. Something inside of me had broken, and I didn’t have the constant challenge to survive to inspire me.
That is, as strange as it sounds, what I think I miss the most. The fear. The adversity. It’s what inspired me to act on the first day I walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf alone, in full statue dress & makeup. It’s what inspired me to create an online magazine when I didn’t even know the first things about creating a website.
But it wasn’t just the adversity that inspired me. It was the love. The love I had for what I was doing, and the love of walking through the fear and feeling like I did something that mattered on the other side.
Lately I’ve been trying to figure out what it was that made me jump into things that I had no idea how to do, and when I realized the answer a few days ago, it was so simple it was absurd.
The one difference, the only thing that will ever create a lasting change in my life, and let me take my jewelry business from more or less a hobby to what I want it to become, the only thing that is different from those things and this is:
I made a decision to do them.
I could read thousands of books, watch hundreds of Ted talks, listen to podcasts until my ears bleed, but that is little more than mental masturbation – letting me feel like I’m doing something of value when nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just very clever procrastination.
Because I am afraid, and for some reason, I’m now letting that get in the way of doing what needs to be done. But that’s another something to look at and figure out another time.
I know that as much as I love making jewelry, there will be many times when I don’t. When I can’t find the right words for the “About” page, when I can’t think of what to write for a post on my site blog, and when I’m just not comfortable doing what needs to get done in order for this to grow. Without a solid, unwavering decision to do what it takes, I’ll never get to where I want. Never be who I want to be. Who I AM.
So it’s time for everything to change. Now.
It won’t be easy, not at first. I know that, and I’m expecting it – but eventually, as long as I show up and do the work, it will get easier. I just need to show up, and do the things that I need to, regardless of how uncomfortable I am with it or how afraid. I’ve been here before, and I know that, as long as I do what I need to, day after day, it WILL get easier.
And another thing I know: When I show up, so does the Universe – and doors that I’ve never even imagined will start opening to me.
They always have.
If you read this, please feel free to comment with what you think – and especially, call me out if you ever see me flagging.
Because there aren’t any excuses anymore. I’ll deal with the physical pain when it comes, and I’ll work through the fatigue. The time of floating is past, and it’s time to fly again.
Early morning, finally a night that ended before the sky started to glow with the morning light. It almost wasn’t by choice – after a week of no more than three hours of sleep a couple times a day, the weariness of my body and mind revolted and actually took over my brain, making me think that 8pm was a fine time to go to sleep for the night. Under the condition that it let me wake up at 4am, we came to a compromise.
It was nice to shut my mind down, I’ll admit. to stop thinking about why I love to make jewelry so much, what my goals are, who my ideal customer is, mu core values and my “why” – all things that I need to consider, as apparently “because I like it” isn’t enough.
Of course, it is a reason, but it’s a safe one, one that doesn’t make you dig deeper inside of yourself for all the smaller reasons that make me “like it” – and without those, without digging down to the core of why I do what I do, and why I am growing more towards a particular style, it would be like Picasso answering a question of why he painted his wacky faces with something like “Well, I thought it looked cool”.
But it’s been a long time since I’ve truly questioned things like that, the strange thoughts swimming around inside of me, and why I am who I am. It’s like the time in the hospice took something away. As if the years after it have been far too placid, and all I needed to do was float along, slowly disappearing with only the memories of who I was left to fade in the minds of others as my own existence, my heart and mind, and my dreams – were slowly consumed by the grey fog of an unchallenged, dispassionate life.
It would have been easy to succumb to if I hadn’t tasted the beauty in the chaos of my life before the hospice, but now I find myself as a bird born into the wild might after it was caught, clipped and caged – every day looking out to the sky, its beautiful colors fading as it longed to again stretch its wings…
This is all over the place, this writing – but it’s necessary. With the words I’ll remember who I was, remember the chaos and passion that is still inside of me but muzzled by my own complacency.
It’s time to create my self again. To give birth to a dancing star.
To ask why, and remember the warrior inside of me.