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.

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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.

 

Wherever The Roads Take Me

“You’ve never been to Burning Man? Darlin’, you belong there. I wasn’t sure if I was going this year, wasn’t even planning on it – but now, I guess I am. I’ll give you a ride.”

New Orleans, 2006. I had recently moved there about five months before, the first time I had ever stepped foot in the city. Though I had seen it on the news a lot recently, nothing prepared me for what I was in person, stepping on the ground, smelling the decay and rot – but still, underneath that, there was something else it took me a while to put my finger on, a feeling… and then I realized what it was. There was a strength to the city, a spirit that even The Storm couldn’t take away. I fell in love with it instantly.

It was a strange path that led me there. My work with The Dresden Dolls had ended in Colorado, and with it the move to Boston. In thinking back all of these years later, I think it may have been a combination of a couple of things that prompted the email from Amanda. The first two were that The DD were going a slightly different direction, and also – I think The Brigade – what we called, and still call ourselves, were perhaps getting too big, too strong, especially the Boston chapter. Hell, we were even working on making it into its own entity, looking into becoming a 501(c)(3) performance group, renting a building where we could inspire & teach others.
And without question, one was my drinking. Though my work with them had never faltered for it, I was again trying to escape something dark & wrong inside of me by numbing it however I could. Still, I helped inspire hundreds of young people across the world to reach beyond themselves, to walk through their fears, to realize how beautiful they are. It was the first time I had ever, in my life, actually felt needed, felt appreciated. The first time I had ever felt loved.
Then everything I loved was ripped away from me.
Such is life. The Universe had other plans. I needed to pick myself up, to try to find the strength to keep moving forward.
In Colorado I found a good place to busk, saving up money I would need for gas. I would listen to the radio in my van at night, stretching out as much as I could in the back seat with Bean, my beautiful dog, caressing her as she rested her head on my chest and hoping sleep would come soon. It was then that I heard about Katrina and the devastation it left in its wake. It was September 5th, my birthday. I was alone with Bean, in our van, crying.

The next morning I started emailing people, and I connected with an old lover who was now living in New Orleans with her family, asking if there was anything I could do to help them. They were fine; she was safe with her family and out of the city. I asked if there was anywhere or anyone she knew of that needed help, and she gave me the contact information to a place in Austin.
“We need people. Show up anytime.”
I smiled for the first time in a week. Within the hour Bean and I were back on The Road.

Going through Kansas & Oklahoma, driving hard, Bean asleep on the throne I had built for her in the back seat. In the black of night there was nothing but the hypnotizing dashed lines on the highway, as if nothing else existed after the reach of my headlights. No signs, no horizon, no hills or turns. Only every few hours would another vehicle pass going the opposite way. 80mph and I would close my eyes, seeing how long I could keep them shut before opening them again in sheer panic. The rapid pumping of my heart helped keep me awake. I knew how stupid I was being, but only when I thought of Bean did I decide to pull over to the side of the road and rest for a bit. The morning brought sunshine and a beautiful view that stretched for an eternity.

19 hours later I was finally in Austin.

It was an amazing place. The “Austin Enchanted Forest”, a private 3 acre wild forest in the middle of Austin, art everywhere. They had set it up with donated tents, blankets, and everything else people who had to leave their home with next to nothing might need. I was “in charge” of welcoming people, showing them around, making sure they had everything they needed.
Bean was in absolute heaven. She had an entire forest to run around in and sniff, other dogs to play with, and every night she would sleep just outside of my tent. In the morning she would poke her head inside the flap if she thought I was sleeping too late and do this kind of “rrrroooowwrr?” thing, a cross between a growl, bark, and asking me to get the hell out of bed because it was time to play, to go on our morning walk in The Forest.

I lived there for four months in a 10’x10’ tent, going from volunteering for a couple months to helping set up and performing for their yearly “Austin Haunted Forest” through the month of October. The time I spent in Austin is another story, though.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“I’ll give you a ride.”

Burning Man was coming up fast. Raven, the kickass woman I had promised a ride to and I started preparing. We bought our tickets, figured out the route – there was just one thing we needed.
A van.
The van I drove there in had only made it that far because I needed it to, and it had done its job. Shortly after I got to NOLA when I needed to move it for parking and found that it had a flat tire and no spare, I decided it was time to let it go to the city. Considering that it was breathing its dying breaths, I wouldn’t have felt right selling her to someone who might depend on it. The next day it was gone.

My work was busking, doing street performance as a Living Statue. I was making good money, saving every penny I could for a van to get Raven & I the 2,200 miles to the Black Rock Desert. Once I had saved $800, I started looking…

Coming from the West Coast where vans & large vehicles are plentiful and cheap, I was surprised at how few there were for sale here, and how expensive even the crappy ones were. I couldn’t figure it out – and then it hit me. I understood.
This is hurricane country. People here need to regularly throw everything they can grab into a car and bug-out, and the bigger the vehicle, the more space for family & things.
I hadn’t thought of that. Time was getting close to our planned departure.

Shit.

I worked extra hours, every day forcing my body to the limits of what it could stand, standing perfectly still. I took the suggestion that a nurse whispered to me one day and started taking aspirin to hopefully prevent blood clots from forming. At night I would look on craigslist for a van, widening the search, increasing the amount I could pay by working the extra hours.

It was grueling, painful, exhausting, but I had given her my word. I wasn’t going to let her down. Far too many people are so full of empty fucking promises, and I won’t be one of them. Hell, if I couldn’t find a van I was ready to buy her a flight to Reno – but hopefully it wouldn’t come to that.

Every night as I laid in bed and every morning, I would do a manifestation meditation. I would picture Raven & I driving up the road to the front gate of Burning Man, blasting music and singing along in a plain white van. In the visualization my window would be down all the way, arm resting on the door as we laughed triumphantly.

The days continued. Still no van. I refused to worry, and just *know* that it would work out.
Well, maybe I worried a little bit. I mean, c’mon, I’m at least *somewhat* human.

Then, finally. Less than a week before we were planning to leave, I found a van for sale in Baton Rouge, at just a tiny bit under what I had saved – and get this: It was the exact van I saw in my mind; white, plain, even a Ford. And it didn’t have a driver’s side window at all. I guess that when I saw it in my mind, every time with the window all the way down – maybe I should have visualized at least a little of the window there. Still, the Universe had given me *exactly* what I was asking for. It likes having fun with me, I’ve found over the years.

The van wouldn’t idle, the driver’s seat felt like it was one of those things in kids’ playgrounds – the animals with the big springs under then that you sat on and leaned every which way, then sprung back up headed in the opposite direction. It felt like the seat was trying to throw me out the window with every right turn I took.
I managed, with the help of a friend following me, to limp the thing home, then spent the next three days making it not only stay running, but idle smooth and strong. I ripped out the driver’s seat and fixed the base of it, checked lights, brakes, tires, fluids, everything. It would get us there. We had a van. It didn’t have a license plate, so I made one out of cardboard that looked almost real, if you didn’t look *too* close.

Then, something unexpected. An email from the seller, a nice lady when I met her. She told me of her uncle – Conrad, or “Uncle Connie”. He had lived as a homeless drunk in New Orleans, and after most of his life spent that way had finally gotten sober. He had bought the van to fulfill a dream he had – of driving West to see the ocean for the first time. Unfortunately, he had died before he could make the trip. Before he could make this dream of his – his only dream – come true.

In her email, she said that when we were talking and I was telling her my plans with the van, she felt something in me that reminded her of her Uncle Connie. She said he had a wonderful heart, a warmth and kindness to him – and she told me how much she had adored him, feeling so fortunate that they at least had a little time to spend together after he got sober. He would have loved something like Burning Man, she said, after I explained it as best as I could to her.

“This is going to sound really strange, but… would you mind helping him realize his dream? Would you take his ashes with you? Take him to the Ocean?”

As Raven & I made our way across the country, we took the time to enjoy it, pulling off to sit in silence and look out over beautiful, expansive views – and I would leave some of Connie there. In kitschy tourist spots, I would leave Connie. Native American craft shops, roadside diners, places that felt, in their way, sacred. Connie was on the road with us, living his dream.

Well, not really “living” it, being as dehydrated as he was – but at least doing it.

That year at the Temple of Hope, I left two silk bags of ashes – and then finally, on a cold overcast afternoon in San Francisco, I again poured two different piles of ashes on the sand, just a little bit below the tide line.

One, of course, was Uncle Connie’s. The other ashes were of the best friend I have ever had.

I stood there for a while, alone and holding my coat tight around me and silently crying, as I watched Bean’s ashes being taken out into the heart of the Sea.
She had always loved running in the ocean.

Messages Beyond Consciousness

I’ve never had dreams such as these before. For the past three evenings every time I closed my eyes and slept I went back to the same setting.
Back to her.

From the beginning, most of the dreams were set at a small outdoor party in a strange & beautiful place. In a way it reminded me of The Enchanted Forest, where I lived for four months in Austin. It had a similar energy, where you knew you were home, and everyone there was, in some way, a friend. Family.
As only dreams can be, however, it had its touches of the surreal. From the fire pits with twisted & colorful glass sculptures spiking out of them, channeling the flames & giving of an eerie yet warm & welcoming light, to snails the size of footballs & other odd yet harmless crawling creatures, to… to art, terrain, trees & plants I can’t recall enough to properly explain. I only remember it was beautiful, and she was there.

In each dream, the people were the same. I knew them only there, in this other world, but they were friends or became friends when I showed up to this place. It seemed – seems – like a meeting place in another reality much more than it does a series of dreams.

I seem to remember a first dream, somewhat like a prologue that led to these, where it was a large gathering of people for an outside performance, and peformers accomplishing things that even had the power to make me gasp… but then, every dream after that until the last, it was just us, these people I knew but don’t – perhaps something of an after-party.

And that’s where I met her.

Shoulder length dark hair somewhere in-between curly & wavy, she stood a few inches shorter than me, the top of her head reaching just above my nose. Kind, compassionate, caring & with an inner strength she didn’t need to display, but I could feel it was there. From the moment I appeared in this place, when we caught each other’s eyes, we knew…

We made a point of sitting side by side every chance we got – laughing, talking, wanting to know more about each other and someties just looking into each other’s eyes & feeling the whisper of yearning behind them, but the conversations and moments we had were short – as each time we began to talk I was literally pulled away from her by some force, as if I was attached to an invisible cable. She would try to hold onto me, keep me next to her, but even with both of us digging in our heels I would be yanked away, dragged over whatever terrain there was, trying desperately to grab onto things & fight it & either break what was ripping me away from her or at least hold to an anchor it couldn’t overcome, but everything I grabbed would be uprooted, torn, and and I would be dragged away from her – not out of sight, but out of reach.

The dream would end in frustration & I would wake up shortly after, but for three days, every time I drifted off to sleep for the night or a late nap, I found myself there again, in this other world, this place beyond the daily mundane consciousness we think we know, and we would find each other.

After one of these “dreams” I realized when I woke up that I had never had a chance to ask her name before I was pulled away. She was only a face, an energy that matched mine, and someone I knew I had loved far beyond the dreams or realities or time of what we think we know. I made a conscious note to myself that, if I could get back there, I would ask her what it is so I could hopefully carry it back with me in my mind the next time I woke up.

The last dream was in a futuristic setting – the space we had been in before was gone, and now I can’t recal enough to explain it, only that it didn’t have the peace of the other dreams. It seemed like most of the people in this place were lost or looking for something they couldn’t find, and that many of them were being pulled away as I had been in the four or five other dreams I found myself in, but still, somehow, I managed to find her – and this time, I wasn’t pulled away.
As we talked there was a sad look on her face as she told me that, for some reason she wasn’t certain of, it couldn’t work between us – and as I stood there with her, confused and wondering why, she started sliding away, a sorrowful & forlorn look in her eyes… and she was gone.

Her name is Constance Sebastian.

These weren’t “normal” dreams, by any means. I had never experieinced anything like these before, where I could take conscious thought into a dream and return to where I was before, continuing the story.

I have my own theories about the meaning of this, but I would also love to hear what other people think – and I think I need to. There is a somewhat obvious message that I can see, but I would sincerely appreciate other interpretations of it – ones not possibly (likely) clouded by my own judgements or insecurities, thoughts that aren’t veiled by my self’s uncertainties of my Self.

So whatcha got for me?