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!)

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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.

 

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…”

To find Me

Who am I anymore? My heart has grown black, blocked, protected, & I cannot see. But I remember.
I’m increasingly feeling that finding my mother was unfortunate. I had promised myself, promised her that I wouldn’t and don’t expect anything, but how could that even be possible?

If she hated me for finding her, I would have been fine. If she wanted to be a part of my life, even better – but I was depending on absolutes, either one or the other, and certainly not this. This, I couldn’t have imagined.

It began beautifully – exactly, more or less, what I wanted. She was excited to meet me & had my half-sister drive her down to the City. The first birthday of mine after we met, I opened my mailbox to find five cards from her…

And when I could, I visited her. A ride with my half-sister & our dogs, a ride with a girlfriend for a birthday present… but as time went by we talked less & less. I left months of unanswered messages, sent letters with no reply. A desperate ride from a friend to confront her. The only time we really talk is when we are together.

At first I was able to laugh it off. “Gods, she’s worse than me.” “She’s mostly a hermit.” “She’s bad at keeping in contact – I guess that’s where I get it.”… but the walls were already being built.

Of course I remembered how. It was the very first thing I learned how to do when I was torn from her arms. Detach. Hide the pain. Move on.
But this time it’s different. I’m stuck in a limbo of uncertainty, and I’ve worked too fucking hard to break the walls down to ever want them there again – though it makes things so much easier. Insufferably lonely, but easier.

I need to weave a new self-narrative of who I am & who she is in my life. Fragments of what was, what might have been, & what is, integrating the abandoned baby & the adult that baby has become.
I need to knit the fantasy birth-mother & the real one together, who she first was, & who I haven’t talked to in over a year nor seen in nearly two, and as painful as it is, accept it. Accept her, & accept… whatever we are now.

I feel that’s the only way to set my heart free again, to let it feel the light as it once did. To remember that part of me and once more… shine.

The world, this life is not perfect, yet we try to arrange people, places & things so as not to disturb our little fear-built fantasy of what it should be, and when people say or do something that doesn’t fit our fantasy, we feel that they’re against us. That life is against us.

I see people fighting to control the things around them every day – getting offended by the most ridiculous bullshit because it isn’t what *they* think. If someone else says or does something that stimulates the fear they have, then *that* person is wrong. Only fear can make a person so blind as to how beautifully magical life is, how incredible it can be when they give up the need for control of those around them.
They’re trapped in a bubble where everyone who doesn’t fit their idea of what “should be” is against them, and almost inevitably spit their sad little outrage out on the Facebook screen.
But I stray.

My life has been one of nearly constant introspection. I have done my best to simply live & let life happen instead of control it, and occasionally I have even been able to achieve this. ( https://kseaflux.wordpress.com/2005/08/ ~ 6 months forward.)
I look back at the past, remember & re-learn things I have forgotten. I feel around in the darkness of my heart & hope to find the answers I once knew for the questions I have today.

…and I understood that I was blaming this on my Mother. Trying to control her, to make her fit into my idea of what I think she should be. What “family” should be. Who the woman I searched over 25 years of my life for should be.
She didn’t ask for this, though she says she wanted me to find her. That she thought about me all the time.

Maybe she doesn’t need to think about me anymore. Maybe a thousand things. I don’t know. But I’m not going to let *this* blacken my heart anymore.

I was going through old Tribe.net testimonials yesterday, reading who I was, trying to repair my heart, trying to understand where & why things turned. These are from only 10 years ago.
This person is still in me, somewhere… and I will find him again.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“I do admire you… I do not know how you do to live the life you live. You remind me of the replicates in the Blade Runner Film. So wild and beautiful like poetry lost in time… like tears in the rain…

Do birds ever come to you?

I will be praying for you these days… for you, my friend, to get home soon. I am so very glad life is good to you because you are so good, way over too many stupidities of this world. And, I might be wrong, of course, for I perceive your nature must bring this need to pull it all the way. Not being a slave at any risk… it’s a pretty good damn meaning and purpose. I believe in you, you are an inspiration to life itself…

I feel you have been giving way too much, and you are so intense, could be dangerous like love… you seem from here like a wild tender beautiful authentic being, more than human. I want to pray for you to find what you are looking for, what you really need….

There is something of me in you; still we might be completely opposites… You are, brother, creator of fantasies, worlds, and million thousand ways to fly. I watch you fly mesmerized; still I wish something wires you to the land… I don’t know why, sometimes I wish I could become that wire to connect you with your land, or at least, send it to you in some magical way…

The higher you fly, the further away, the deeper this wish buries in me… like a dream, it cuts. It’s not easy to say this kind of things, to describe this kind of experience without some fear…

I hope you’ll understand… I hope you do receive a kiss and a hug with these words which aren’t enough, I know, but it’s all I got now…

Blessings”

~  ~  ~
“I find it hard to breathe in your arms. it has less to do with the urgency of your embrace, the strength in your slender sinewy limbs… more the relentlessness of your self. I find myself outnumbered, surrounded, because you are starving, ravenous, for life and love and laughter.

and these things I have, like candies spilling out of my overfull hands

I hold them behind me, not to taunt you, but unsure that I can surrender them without loosing fingers.
you are no tame bird”

~  ~  ~
“it was wonderful seeing you last night. you were looking more balanced than i have seen you
before, gorgeous and fit of course, but also you energetically seemed very clear and free. So many real smiles, even your aura shining. i’m so glad. you’re such a great combination of goofy and lovable and innocent, and fucking searingly sexy and worldly and such a piece of inspiring art to look at. fascinating art that creates itself from the inside out and can reach out and grab a lady’s hair just right.
love.”

 

I miss who I was when I knew the light.

 

Life, Death, Dogs. A Rooftop Contemplation

The occasional whisper of tires as a car drives by below, an unintelligible shout, the scattered songs of birds. The only sounds at this hour. Only the crackheads & I seem to be awake. Even the sirens are quiet, sleeping.

It’s 4am & I’m up on the roof of my apartment building with a fresh cup of coffee, a cigarette, & Ruby. The clouds above reflect the city lights giving a faint glow, just enough to see by. A cool breeze plays with my hair, blowing it in my face then away. I wrap my robe a little tighter around me.

I sit on the short wall of my building, look down at the weeds growing in our forbidden & neglected back yard. Near the far right corner calla lily’s bloom, defying the otherwise abandoned and unloved desolation. With their beauty inevitably comes a warm sorrow as I’m reminded of when Striggy brought a gift of bone-white lily’s to my tent in Austin. With love & reverence I placed them on top of the pale blonde box I had picked up earlier that day, already made into an altar surrounded with candles, a picture of Bean propped up against the box that now held the ashes of the most amazing dog & companion I’ve ever known. She was killed by a freight train a few days before, found by friends lying between the tracks, her favorite stuffed toy a few inches from her head. Nearly 13 years later & the tears still fall for her.

I turn back facing the roof top, close my eyes, take in a few deep breaths as I find a strange comfort in this sadness. Now, it’s filled with love and warm memories instead of the anguish I carried inside for years, holding it tight, afraid that if the pain wasn’t there I would somehow be betraying her memory.

I know better now. I understand death better now.

I think of how exquisite this life is, how fortunate I am. Occasionally I still let the weight of it all get to me and forget these things, but not now. Not today.

I open my eyes and catch Ruby briefly chasing her tail. I chuckle silently to myself and somehow love her even more.

I think of the time I spent in Hospice. Months on end so close to giving up, so desperately wanting to stop being strong, and each morning having to somehow find just one reason to keep fighting. One reason to stay alive.

As impossible it seemed to be able to imagine at times, I needed to believe that I would somehow get better.

I had to know, with as little doubt as possible, that there would be mornings like this one to look forward to.

Outside of Comfort

(Old Dog, New Tricks)

As I turned from O’Farrell St. onto Polk I knew that my chances of making a valid excuse to get out of this were deteriorating. Of course I could show up and *not* tell a story, forging some absurd reason that I couldn’t make it fit into the five minutes we were given, or I could simply tell David the truth; I was terrified of all that could go wrong.

I thought back to the few storytelling events I had been a guest at, and remembered that during each one there were times where I said to myself “Hell – I could do this, and I might even be able to do it better.” Then I would think about what stories I could tell, and the self-doubt inside of me was such a powerful presence that I couldn’t come up with any. I mean sure – I could come up with the *middle* of a story, maybe even the beginning – but the a good ending has always been elusive.

I thought of my life and all the amazing tales in it, but it seemed as if they all bled into the previous and the next, with nothing I could truly call an ending. I mean hell – what happens when our stories end? Maybe it’s a psychological thing – the story of my life has come so dangerously close to ending so many times that I blocked the completion of any of them, choosing instead to keep writing “and then this happened…”.

As I got closer to the venue, I slowed down & lit a cigarette, taking three deep drags in hopes of calming my nerves. I’ve wanted to do this for months just to see if I could, but fear has always gotten the better of me. Now, here was my chance & I wanted to turn around & run home. I dug deeper than the doubt in my mind & after a bit of moving things around, found my courage tucked away in back. I dusted it off, shined it up a little, and set it inside my heart. If I failed, so be it – but at least I would have tried.
As I opened the door to The Hemlock Tavern & walked in, this became my silent mantra. It’s been countless years since my last “First Time” doing anything – at least where I could and would be judged by others. I did my best not to think about it as the friend I was meeting caught my eye.

David, a storytelling veteran who had once won first place on The Moth Story-Slam, had put his name down early, second on the list. I was number five.

He offered me his drink ticket, one of the perks of telling a story, and said that when I get mine I could give it to him since the Porchlight Storytelling organizers weren’t around at the time. I looked at it as a promise – if I didn’t get up there, I would morally have to forfeit my drink ticket and not be able to pay his kindness back. I find it amusing how my mind creates little back-ups to ensure I don’t back out – and even more amusing that I actually honor them. Hell – whatever works.

I had finally written my story out in longhand (due to my rapidly dying laptop) about an hour before I had to leave, doing my best to commit the main points to a loose memory, something like writing them down on index cards then throwing them up in the air to see what order they landed in. I knew from long-ago experience that if I tried to memorize it word for word it would be a disaster.

Though we had planned on going to this small event over a month before, neither of us were even nearly ready until that day. He had a story that was 20 minutes longer than the five minutes we were given, and mine simply didn’t exist yet. Still recovering from an amazing weekend at The Edwardian Ball, I had completely forgotten that tonight was the night until I got his text in the morning. Shit.

The theme was “Stories of the Gig Economy”, and yesterday morning I racked my brain thinking of all the strange jobs I’ve had, all the things I have done to be able to eat – and all the odd stories that came from them. When I put my mind to it I found out that I had plenty – from being homeless & staying up all night at Denny’s frying on mushrooms so I could stay awake & get to work on time, to spending four months in Federal Prison due to a pot deal that went bad at a Harley shop I worked at, to finding myself standing under the world’s deepest diving diesel-electric submarine & needing to commemorate it by dancing the Charleston, to working as a mover & finding that my helper was into primal scream therapy only after he startled the crap out of me with a blood curdling screech while we were loading the truck – yeah, the stories were there, but I wanted more than a story. I wanted beauty, laughter & maybe even a lesson.

Then I found one – or more appropriately, it found me. One of the stories from when I was busking in New Orleans. It was more-or-less perfect, but still – I didn’t know how to end it. I decided to figure it out when I was on stage. What could possibly go wrong?

David’s story was fantastic, of course, with an ending that completed the story yet still hinted at the madness that came after. Then, two more storytellers, and thankfully, though their stories were good, I had the “I think mine might be better” sense of relief that thankfully boosted my courage just enough to quiet the demons in my head – because I was next up.
No turning back now…

I walked up onto the stage, and was instantly blinded by the lights. Good. Just me & the microphone. I raised the mic so I didn’t have to hunch over (noting that the guy before me was hunched, and it simply didn’t look good) – and began my story.

I don’t remember much of what I said, but I recall that people laughed at the right times, that words & sentences I hadn’t even though of appeared in my story to describe things that much better, and that somehow, my story found an ending to itself.
I did it. I fucking DID it, and instead of hisses and boo’s there was applause. Real applause, not just people being polite.
Crossing in front of a few people on my way to my seat in the back row, the woman sitting next to me said that the ending of my story made her cry a little in a good way. I had to refrain from asking her how it ended.

When the rest of the stories were told & it was time to determine who earned the prizes, I felt confident that I would probably get one. The difference in how I felt as I walked in the door just hoping to get through it did not go unnoticed. I closed my eyes and silently thanked the storytelling gods for reminding me of my courage.
Third place received a pound of coffee, which I certainly could have used but went to a woman & her lovely story. Second place was a crisp $50 bill, which I *definitely* could have used, but that, very deservingly, went to David. Cheers & applause echoed in the small room – but there was still one more prize left.
First place, the “grand prize”, is being invited to tell another story on February 23rd at some “Secret Location” in San Francisco – but it comes with dinner & the winner can bring a “date”.
They called my name. In a way I expected it, but I also TOTALLY didn’t, because I’m not good at telling stories.
I guess it’s time to change that way of thinking.
Great. Though I’m amazingly honored, now I get to go through all of this again, except most likely with people who have been telling stories & honing their skill for years – or at least more than a day. No pressure.

When I think about it, it’s really just telling a story – something that we do every day, and have been doing since the dawn of language – but although I’ve been writing the stories of my life for around 37 years, I have never felt that I was good at telling them. Hells, for the first 17 years of my life I was as close to silent as I could get away with, a tragically insecure & self-doubting child, choosing to listen & watch instead of talking.

But this is something new. A new way to make people happy, to make them laugh, think, and perhaps even cry – in a good way.

And I enjoyed it immensely, which, when it comes down to the nuts & bolts, is more important than *any* prize.