for what it isn’t

Inside me swim any number of feelings, either ready to choose from or, at times, forcing their way to the front of my attention.

From it’s birth at the tiny Cat Club to its growth into what it has not become – a two-evening, three city event, in it’s hometown of San Francisco held at one of the largest appropriate venue’s available & still waveringly sold out, I don’t recall ever not attending The Edwardian Ball when I’ve been physically able.

Until this year.

Why I made this choice has a number of underlying reasons, but I think what surprises me the most is that, in all honesty, I don’t miss it or the people, nor do I believe that they will notice my absence. At all.
Of course when I’ve gone there have always been the friendly faces, the smiles, the hugs and “how are you”s, but I have no reason there, no purpose, and nearly all contact is superficial at most. I show up alone, spend the majority of the event wandering alone, feeling alone, and more lonely in the middle of hundreds of people than I feel by myself in my apartment – and leave alone.

One of these days it would be nice to have someone to enjoy it with, someone to arrive & leave with – but at least this year, I had no desire to make all the effort to go and see the people – the “friends” – who, in the years that I have known them, haven’t once spent any amount of time with them at something that wasn’t an event, a show, a party. In the years I’ve known them, never have any called or messaged me, simply to say hello. It’s growing more & more difficult to deny the reality that, in the grand scope of things, very few of them are little more than good acquaintances – and I feel more alone – & lonely -when I’m around them.

It’s time for some things to change.
The Edwardian Ball isn’t going anywhere for a while – I’ll come back, I’m sure… but I won’t show up alone.

alone

 

coming true

This timing isn’t working. All I can do when I sit down to write in the morning is think about how quickly I can get it done. There are so many stories I want to write, so much life I’ve lived, but they don’t fit neatly into a few small paragraphs. Into a small pocket of time. There is so much more I need to be doing, and so much more time than I had intended to have this ready by has already passed. just a few more things and every bit of focus I can dredge up to get them done before I’m able to take my art and life to a place that has only been a vague dream with no knowledge of how to get there – like the whisper of a pirate’s buried treasure with no map of how to get there.
At least, up until now.

Suddenly this lifelong glassy-eyed, “wouldn’t it be nice if someday” dream has an incredibly good chance of  becoming real… and I’m having an insanely difficult time believing it. It’s as if David Bowie called you out of the blue to explain that his death was just a hoax, and not to intrude but he would love it if you could find a nice two bedroom apartment where you & he could live for a while, and just live quiet lives hanging out, chatting over pints at local dive bars on the nights when you two weren’t at the studio while he cut another album – and by the way, do sing or play an instrument?

Okay, so that may be a bit unbalanced on the level of disbelief in the possibility of it happening, but you get the picture. The life I’ve considered nearly impossible to ever be mine is now so close to becoming reality that I’m absolutely terrified. More than finding my birth mother, more than dying. This is being able to do what I want, to have the freedom to go anywhere, to simply treat a friend to a nice dinner on a whim as we walk past an interesting looking restaurant – I can’t even remember how many years it’s been since I’ve been able to do something as simple as that…
and to be able to help. Having a car when someone needs a ride or to move, money if they need that, donations to animal shelters & sanctuaries, and eventually even a yard large enough for Rubes to run around & plan in – with her new friends.

I see the steps, have carefully thought about how it’s going to grow, and am ready as I can be for the inevitable challenges along the way.
I’ve learned quite a bit about how to work through adversity over this life I’ve lived.
Maybe it – the good and bad – maybe all that I’ve lived through has been preparation for this new adventure. Maybe it has all been trying to teach me not to be afraid, that one way or another, it will all work out – just like it always has.

All I need to do is get my ass in gear & get the things I need to get done, done – and maybe, come this Friday – four days from now – this impossible dream will get its first taste of reality as I receive the first wholesale order for my jewelry.

Either that, or David Bowie will call.

Saying goodbye to my little friend

It’s always there, reminding me. Reminding me that I’m sick regardless of how well I may feel, reminding me that there’s something wrong, something that would never let me believe, even for a moment, that just like nearly everyone else I could relax.

Every time I looked in a mirror it made certain I wouldn’t forget.This monstrosity. This hideous thing sticking out of my abdomen.

Every single time I saw a woman that enticed me – a playful look in her eyes, a laughter that sounded like music, the language in her body and a beckoning gaze  inviting me to approach, I would begin to smile inside with the hope of putting an end to this everlasting loneliness – then turn away.

What if we ended up liking each other? What if we laughed at the same absurd things, our eyes sparkled a bit brighter as we looked at the other… what if one night we went home together, and it came time to take off my shirt?

Of course I would have warned her, told her about it, but hearing and seeing are two entirely different things. When she actually saw my umbilical hernia, that I have a tennis-ball sized mound of flesh & intestines sticking out of my belly that looks frighteningly similar to a scrotum, what then?

For years I’ve been destroying any possibility before it began. For years I’ve been pleasing with the surgeon to cut me open and fix it regardless of the consequences, knowing that they couldn’t be worse than what I’ve been putting myself through.
Knowing that they couldn’t be worse than facing the near-guarantee of a lifetime without anyone special to share it with, knowing I would never get close enough to let myself fall in love again. Knowing that this loneliness would forever be a part of me…

Now, over six years of begging & pleading, I am 18 days away from the surgery I’ve wanted all this time.

He finally agreed.

Sure, it’s risky as hell for me, with a roughly 30% chance something may go wrong and I’ll die, but weighing the risks against spending the rest of my life afraid to even approach & flirt with a woman? I’ll take my chances. I really fucking miss being in love.

Eighteen days.

Shit. I need to try to remember how to actually talk, flirt – and date  again!

Maybe this surgery isn’t the best idea after all.
(Just kidding – FUCK YEEAAH!)

nowhere but now

Outside with Ruby this morning in our “back yard”, the lot behind the apartment building I live in, I stood there in my pajamas, bathrobe & boots, enjoying the early morning quiet, grey skies & cool breeze.

As Rube did her usual sniffing around I lifted my head up & closed my eyes, taking that moment in as fully as possible, finding gratitude in just simply being able to be there. In the nearly 7 years I’ve lived in this one place, only recently have they opened it, unlocking the steel gate so that it could be used. For a couple months only myself and one other resident in this 48 apartment building had the key, but as soon as the security cameras went up they replaced the handle of the gate with one that doesn’t lock at all.

To have a small patch of solitude that I can pretend is my own, and just walk or stand on something other than concrete without having to get dressed and walk to a park, to simply be outside & alone with Ruby – in the middle of the city, it’s quite a blessing.

To be here. To be alive. There is so much to be happy for, so many small things that are so frequently are overlooked or taken for granted.
Fat too many people seem to look at happiness as a goal, something to be won if they work hard enough, make enough money, save enough… but happiness should never be a goal for another day.

When I was in hospice, there were many occasions, sometimes for weeks on end, when I wasn’t certain that I would be alive the next day, or even in a few hours. I didn’t have the luxury of looking to the future hoping to find happiness; and as hard as it sometimes was, I needed to find reasons to be grateful, to live moment by moment, and find happiness & grace inside myself. To force myself to smile at a nurse through the pain, to laugh at the absurdity of being able to smell the stench of my own body decomposing, to find the courage to simply accept whatever happened, knowing that it was a miracle that I had even lived this long – and man, what a life it had been…

I keep everything I learned in hospice inside of me, creating my own happiness & grace, and though I’m certainly not happy all the time – nor, I think, do I want to be – when I need to, I use what I learned as the means to a good life right here, right now – and not a goal to be achieved some other day.

My happiness depends on nothing but me.

But of course, a nice little patch of grass & dirt to pretend is my own helps.

forced

Then it comes. Again. I struggle to do anything, moving myself over to my desk in order to prolong consciousness, hoping that it might trigger something in my body & mind that says WORK. Now it’s time to work.

But it doesn’t happen. I find myself with 30 minutes, an hour gone by waking up after nodding off, the screen, unchanged, still staring at me, expecting something.

Chronic fatigue is a bitch.

I tried to show up, to get what I wanted done. Made small changes in what I needed to but nothing even close to all I had planned…

Now laying in bed on my way to sleep, I pull my laptop over.

Just 50 words. That micro-commitment I am trying to do. I lift up the screen, sign in, start typing.

I can at least do that. If I don’t…

it all falls apart.

Just sit. Be quiet. Think.

Though I don’t do it as much as I used to or would like to now, it is still one of the things I relish most in life – having the time to do just that – or making the time.
But admittedly, as much as I love it, it’s not something that comes easily to me, and never has. My mind just simply doesn’t work like that. My thoughts don’t organize themselves into something that I can easily follow or make sense of, and my head seems to enjoy dancing around from one thought to the next, as if they were in that lottery-ball machine, bouncing around & randomly shooting up the tube into my awareness.

Sometimes I can let them go – just a passing thought of little consequence, or something that I can figure out or decide upon right then and there, gathering a bit of logic & other things I may have learned along the way – but then there are others, like the one I only just had – and the only way to play it out in my head so that it makes sense – is to write. It’s the way it’s always been for me.

Lately I’ve had a number of people comment on how much better I’ve been looking – how much healthier. Enough people to make me wonder why, and try to figure out if anything has changed, or maybe they just haven’t seen me in a while. Probably a mixture of both, but answering it so easily with absence – well, that’s not going anywhere. That won’t help anything or get me thinking about a path of possible growth, something that has happened that I can continue… But if anything has changed? Now that could be interesting – so that’s what I went with, as well as I could inside of my head. And I found an answer.

I’m creating again. I have a purpose again. I’m doing something I love, and best of all – making people happy.

And, in return, my health has improved, feel happier, and with my chainmaille jewelry business, there seems to be, as long as I don’t let myself procrastinate it all away or find a place where I’m “okay” but not where I want to be and call it good enough – there is almost unlimited growth potential. I’ve even figured out a way to move beyond the terror of not doing every little thing myself.

I’ve found, however, that it’s fragile. I have such a fucking frustrating propensity to procrastinate, to put things off with some of the best excuses imaginable, that what I need to do doesn’t get done – and I’m only happy when it does.

I need to remember that. I’m only happy when things are moving forward, when I’m growing, when I’m stepping out of comfort into something I’m terrified of doing –  because that’s the only place I find passion. Only then do my eyes shine the way they used to, and only then… only then, I believe, does my mind use the power it has to heal my body, because it has a reason to.

Why else would it have been that I was mostly fine – able to walk the 3/4 mile to the cafe from my motorhome to work on my magazine every day for months – and then within the first week of being in the hospice with nothing to do, my body decides to completely shut down?

There’s something in that – and now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to get my ass in gear and get to work. I have a business that I love to make grow, and a life to continue to live.

making it all true again

Saturday morning. Returning from the dirt & grass “back yard” of my apartment building where I took Ruby down to do what she needed, I tilted my head back and closed my eyes as I let the sunshine & cool breeze caress my face, thinking of nothing as well as I could but instead thinking more of what’s to come in my life. If I let it. I get wrapped up in the past, the life of a young man that I created & was so deeply in love with, and… and I miss him.

I wonder where the person I was has gone, or if he’s gone at all. The memories of the magic come flooding back & wash over me as they so frequently do, when I would allow nothing to stand in my way & had the courage & motivation, when I knew that everything was possible and proved it to myself.

What has changed? Where does this fear come from? Is it even real, or just an excuse I tell myself in order to remain where I am, and gods, why the fuck would I want to do that? It’s known, but not comfortable. Familiar, but so is the insanity of a life where I didn’t know what would happen from day to day, sometimes – often – not even knowing where I would sleep. What has changed? Where did that young man, full of dreams and excitement for the unknown go?

Perhaps I’ve become jaded. Not to life and its magic, but to people. I’ve known the ones who are called “friends” for far too long now, and it’s time for new ones – ones who challenge me, who I look up to and who look to me when they are uncertain about things. People I respect & who respect me.
It’s interesting. The friends I made when I was travelling, wandering from place to place, city to city, and meeting people at random where I went – even when only met briefly, those are the people who are still strongest in my heart, who have earned a place and love there that will never fade.

I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t want to be who I’ve become, and it is weighing heavily enough on my soul to change my life into who I can be. I’m doing something I love – creating art that I put my heart into, making people happy, and it is a gift that can change my life into the life I’ve always dreamed of… so it’s time to quit whining, quit wondering what happened to the broke vagabond whose adventure & excitement was simply trying to survive & eat, and chip away at the stone until I find the life that has always been hidden inside. There is a freedom waiting for me, just on the other side of these dreams…

The thing is, my biggest obstacle is that in order to become who I want to be, I need to get past the idea that the greatest adventures I’ve had so far have come from being poor and needing to be incredibly creative just to eat. Now, it’s time for me to turn that creativity into being… rich. Hells, even the word sounds strange, almost dirty, when I admit that’s what I want to be…

But I need to help others, and in order to do that, I need to help myself.

There are few things that light up my heart like bringing joy to others, and the only way to do that on the level I want to is to take care of my SELF financially, and to take this business of my art as far as it will go. I can already see how I can, already have plans, and it’s more possible than anything I’ve ever done in my life before.

It’s time to start making a whole new level of dreams come true. After all, this is what I fought so hard to stay alive for, what I’ve always wanted – and this life, right now, the only chance I have.

I’ve created an entirely new me before, and that brought more amazing things into my life – and more amazing people – than I ever would have dreamed being possible.
It’s time, now, to re-create myself again – to rid myself of what I don’t want to be & become, again, the person – the Warrior – who makes his dreams come true.

the legacy of a smile

I find it difficult to view it as anything special, something different in me. Like a fondness for animals, my love of the ocean or a desire for solitude,  the need to create is just a part of me, & always has been.

But there are times, on occasion, when I think about it, and maybe come close to realizing how blessed I am. Simply creating something that did not exist in the world before, something that makes someone smile, feel better about themselves, feel more beautiful – words that I write that might make someone feel less alone, understand something better, inspire them – in the tiniest way, what I’ve made or written, perhaps even just for a moment – if it makes the world a better place, even just for one person, then all of the struggle, the pain, the frustration – it’s all worth it.

That’s when it all makes sense.

I wonder sometimes what would have happened – what my world would be like – if, on that one day about 15 years ago, I hadn’t had the courage to try to live the life that wanted to live and just did what I knew would be the easiest thing – go out and find another job, continued being dissatisfied, but safe.

I have little doubt that the disease would have won, if that were the case – and that I would be dead… and that perhaps at the most, 3 or 4 people might have even noticed that I passed.

And I would have already been entirely forgotten.

stepping back to see

It can so easily consume me if I let it. If I stand in the middle of it all, spinning around and around, trying to see & figure out how to do everything at once.

Today I have, bu far, the biggest & most promising event I’ve ever vended at, and there is still a lot that needs to be done so I’m ready, all packed up, have everything I need & everything done by the time David shows up to give me a ride.

I have less than three hours to do it all in.

I need to step back, look at it all piece by piece, and just do what I need to do – one thing at a time.

A large part of the feeling of being overwhelmed is knowing that this is just the beginning, the first real step towards the life I’ve been dreaming of all of my fucking life, and it’s hard to hold onto my typical demeanor of “whatever happens, happens” – and just be as prepared as I can, dealing with & working through the challenges as they come.
But I need to. Just step back, stop spinning around trying to see everything, and just focus on one thing at a time… and rock the friggin’ hell out of today.

Speaking of which, I should probably get to that right now – I’ve already checked off the “Write at least 50 words” box for the day, so look at that – already kicking ass!

Now, to continue on the path of making THIS dream into a reality.
So far, so good.

 

for nothing more than the need

It’s not for want of things to write that I stumble today, it’s having too much, too many different things that I want to say… but without the time to do it, to write what I need to say for the words I release to help me at all.

It’s 2:20pm on a grey & wet rainy Monday afternoon, & I’m still sitting on my bed in socks & my pajamas. After having the time slip by unnoticed while I made jewelry last night until 4:30am & waking up long after I prefer to, the day is shorter than I want it to be today.
Maybe one of these days I’ll work on growing the habit of waking up at a decent hour, but of course that would mean getting to sleep at one – stopping in the middle of a piece or not starting a new one that I want to, just for the reward of the morning…

I’ll figure it out. Maybe someday soon actually have something like a schedule instead of each day and its rhythm being entirely different – chaotic without the chaos.

Until then, however, sometimes I’ll only have time to write something like this, instead of what I really wish to write about – but at least I’m writing regularly again, and as I found today – at least it’s starting to edge over to the needed therapy & introspection that it has been for me so beautifully & so raw in the past.

And it’s becoming something, again, that I need to do.

lost chances

I went to a memorial last night, a celebration of a friends life.
I don’t get emotional about people dying. At most, I feel a little saddened or concerned for the family they may have left, but inside of my heart, if there is anything felt at all is is more focused around fond memories of them, feeling blessed that they were in my life and that we were able to experience some of it together, share it and some of the time we have with each other, enjoy its magic.

When I heard of Jan passing, however, it was different. I only knew him a short time, but I sensed something of a kinship in him that I seldom feel with anyone , and seldom have. He was someone special to me, someone I looked forward to getting to know, share stories with, share our sadness, frustration, joys and love.

But I never had that chance. He never knew what I felt. I never took the time to tell him, to pull him aside, to tell him what I felt. I figured that, if I was right in what I saw in him, it would happen – after all, we had time. I would see him again, and maybe then the opportunity would arise where we found ourselves engaged in conversation, standing outside at a party or the last two sitting around a campfire in the early hours of the morning…

Last night I found out much more than I had ever known about Jan as people stepped up to the microphone to talk about him, his life, frustrations, joys, and love – and they described the exact person I felt when I saw him, in the few times we chatted. They described who I saw behind his eyes – the person I wanted to get to know better, the person I felt was more – and as they were talking about him, the tears fell from my eyes as I found out more and more… because they were also describing me.

Jan, even though we never had the chance to know each other, you taught me a valuable lesson, and I thank you.
In the future, if I come across someone who, behind their eyes, I see kin, see someone familiar, see someone who, even if I don’t know why at the time, I feel like I should get to know – I won’t hesitate. If I have to, I’ll step through my shyness & insecurity & fears & pull them aside, to a place we can talk, and begin: “This is going to sound weird and I apologize, but you remind me of someone that I never got a chance to know until after he died, and I think we could be friends…”

What words will come today, I have no idea – your guess is almost as good as mine. All I know is that I need to write 50 words, which is my daily goal in this mini-habit thing.
This concept is actually pretty interesting, and perfect for me. Like most people, I’m certain, I used to make pretty lofty daily goals with the hope of turning them into positive habits. When I made them, I was full of vim & vigor, knowing without a doubt that the goal of writing 2500 words a day for NaNoWriMo or working out for 30 minutes would be a piece of cake. After all, wasn’t it me who is the guy who was strong enough to decide to quit working for anyone ever again, and from that created a life that would make (& did make) many people amazed at my strength & will? Wasn’t it me who took two handfulls of herbs, meditated & visualized myself living for hours every day, therefore saving my own life when the doctors were out of options & couldn’t? Hell, writing a few words and a little time taking care of my body would be *nothing* compared to that!

And so it went – I rocked those goals for at least two days – then there was that day when I was extra tired, or had a lot to do, or really needed to clean my apartment or polish my fingernails or absolutely HAD to learn to play the harmonica better – or do anything but write or work out.
I’ll get back into it tomorrow. Skipping one day won’t kill me. Watch me go.

Or maybe I’ll do it another time. This is too much right now, with the chronic fatigue from my cirrhosis, and besides, doing crunches really hurts my abdomen and my umbilical hernia…

And I failed. Again. I had plenty of excuses, even a few valid ones – but not meeting my goal still took a chunk out of my self-confidence, still made me feel that I just couldn’t follow through, on anything. Just like my dad always said.

But I can write 50 words a day. Hell, doing that – and setting the stupid-easy goal of two push-ups a day – it would be hard *not* to write that many if I just simply wrote anything at all, and as long as I get that 50 done, I have achieved my goal, continued with the habit I’m trying to build. If I do those two push ups, I already have the exercise mat down so may as well do a few more and while I’m at it some planking and other ridiculously easy exercises, and… and well, would you look at that. Not only did I hit my goal, but went past it – and because the mind isn’t concerned with how many, just accomplishing what I set out to do initially – my self-confidence starts to build itself back up, little by little.

During the day, instead of having the “shit I need to do that” weighing on me like I did when I set friggin’ Tony Robin’s sized goals, I look at it now with a satisfaction. “Already done!” – and gods, that feels fucking good to be able to say. Even if I haven’t done it, even if I’m feeling like complete shit, it’s nothing to do one push-up. Nothing to write 50 words – and even on days where that’s ALL I do, I still fucking DO that push up or write those words.

So yeah, I’m digging this new mini-habit thing. After a while it will become a real habit, and feel like I’m doing something wrong if I don’t do it. Like I feel weird if I fall asleep without reading these days. It feels like I didn’t take off my boots or turn on my fan, or grab one of my hats on the way out the door.

I’m just starting with these. I think another one will be getting rid of one thing I don’t need anymore every day – maybe I’ll start that one today. This place is looking clusterfuck ridiculous with all the crap I’ve collected over the years, that I’ll definitely use for an art project some day.

Well, what do you know. 700 words.

 

not counting these: 50×3

Getting started

Fear. When it comes down to it, that’s what’s holding me back. What always has.
My best guess is that it began with my adopted dad. I would come to him with the dreams and plans of a child, excited, unstoppable, the future full of magic & beauty & testing myself & building a dream to make it real, and he would be the boss instead of the father, asking how this would happen, how that, what if & all the things that I needed to not think about. How it was going to happen wasn’t my concern, I just new it was, and that I would build it.

And each time I walked away from him, from his “help”, I walked away knowing that it was impossible – whether it was or wasn’t. As a child, those are the things I was supposed to find out for myself, and if I could, work around them – but the final result was that I never even tried. He told me, and I knew – I would fail before I even started.

Which is what I’m fighting now, again. Over-preparing, making certain that everything is perfect, spending all my time on finding the answers to the questions that 7 years ago & made certain that he could never ask again, but cutting my entire adopted family out of my life. Of course, there were many other reasons as well besides that, and the final one was that, though they were in town frequently, they never visited me in the hospice. At this point, I don’t even know if they know I lived…

This isn’t about them, though. At least it’s not supposed to be. This is about me getting my shit together, realizing that I’m still terrified of failure but moving forward anyway. Knowing that things will likely never be perfect, and that I need to take what I’ve already prepared (after I do a few more things that need to be done) and getting out there, finding wholesalers for my jewelry business. It’s the only way that I can see that it will grow into what I want it to be – though I have little doubt that the ‘Verse will throw some things my way as well – it always does.

I just need to get out there, to stop preparing. To stop trying to answer the questions he would have asked before he does, and live my life the way I have always dreamed it being.

 

These scratches come as a result of a new book I’m reading that makes a LOT of sense to me – Mini Habits, by Steven Guise. The basic premise is just to set the goal for something tiny every day, something easily accomplished so it isn’t intimidating – and you’ll (I’ll) actually do it – such as setting a goal for writing 50 words a day, and doing one push-up. While you’ll usually do more, just knowing that you can reach your goal with so much ease will help you do it every. single. day.,, and therefore help raise your self-confidence – as well as secure the habit in your routine.
Of course, he describes it better, but that’s the general idea. Little tiny steps. So, that’s what I’m doing, and that’s why you’re likely going to see a bunch of crap in this blog for quite some time… but who knows? It may just turn into my book once I’ve found the words again.