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.

wings

Lifetimes ago, I called to you, called, and finally

you looked, noticed how my wings glistened with light

and reached to take hold of my hand.

You were blind to how these wings were scarred, wounded, broken,

or you just didn’t care. You saw something that you thought you could fix.

You reached down, down far – and almost fell

almost fell – for me. Some things I just won’t let happen. See where the scars come from, see why I use what I do for paste now, and don’t judge.

Out of bourbon and fire, fire and ashes, ashes and dust, dust like thousands of words and the tears of joy and sorrow that created them, out of these things I make my paste. I make my paste out of the same wind that carries them away. I make my paste out of the strength of the blood of my heart, of mine, not yours. You want me to be my best, my best for you. I want to be my best for me and only that because that is what stays. I know me better, I know what I want I know who I am and who I will be and that is not your creation. Even in your love, it can only be made by mine of myself. Only I can make me, again, and again, and again – and I do. You haven’t known me long enough to realize this. Let me be and love me and let me always become. Try to mold me and I crumble in your hands. Love me and let me be if you’re strong enough.

If you’re strong enough, I will be stronger for both of us.

Old Bones (aka why I won’t let myself die.)

I spend much of my days lately going through my past, reading each post, filtering out those that say little and creating what will be a book out of the others. Remembering who I was, and trying to figure if there is still some of him inside of me, or if he’s still there, buried under all that’s happened since and trying to dig his way out.

Some of the things I’ve written are still saturated now with the same pain I felt then – but some things I read make it worth it.
This is one of those things that make it all worth it…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
’06 – – – Because this makes me feel that everything in my life that got me to today was for some sort of reason…
I’ve been reading this almost every day since I received it in the mail about a week ago.
Every time, I get choked up.
Frequently, tears fall.
and I don’t think I will ever understand what I do to deserve things and people like this in my life
simply by living it the only way I can believe in…
***
(Sometime in ’05)
Dear kSea,
I find myself hesitant to write this as I don’t wield words nearly as deftly as you do. There is very little art in my language – pragmatic ramblings at best. And yet here I am putting paper to pen anyway. Because I miss exchanges with you. Because the internet feels cold and incidental. Because I’m hopeful that intention can affect distances, mental if not geographic. Because it’s so nice to get real mail!
There’s a part of me that’s worried about you nearly since the day I met you. Me being the mother that I am and you with your constant chaos and complete lack of social safety nets that I rely on in my own life. Yet some how you have managed to amaze me with your resilience and your will to survive time and time again. You’ve given me pause to question some of the things I give power and importance to. Boiled life down to it’s essentials.
When you were leaving S.F. for Boston my worry spiked. You seem like a mythical creature on the endangered species list – magnificent and otherworldly, but fragile and only possible in certain realities. Your disregard for those social construct nets is something that seemed possible only in a defiant city like S.F.
7.4
Wow, I wish I’d put a date on the first half of this letter. I wrote it possibly over eight months ago. It got lost in my papers and I suddenly found it just recently. But I read those words and realize it still holds true – all of it. So, I continue…
Nonetheless, out you ventured into the cruel world that never seems to appreciate it’s mythical creatures until they’re gone. But in a world stingy with it’s magic you’ve milked it, found the leaks and siphoned it, nurtured it’s growth in sidewalk cracks, passed it on like notes in class. You NEVER cease to amaze and inspire me.
This praise and awe does not come blind to the darker side. I know that you carry anger, bitterness, resentment, malice and cold along with all the glitter. It doesn’t make the wonder any less real – more so, in fact. The fervor with which you hold on to the beauty of the world comes in part from your knowledge of how ugly it can be. In times I’ve heard you resent your will to live. The thing is it’s not just a will to not be dead, but a will to live. To really live and take life for all it’s worth.
I guess this is really just a long winded way for me to tell you that I love you and I’m immensely grateful to have you in my life.

And I’ll never forget getting mailed a PB&J sandwich.
And I found this picture and thought you’d like it.
Much Love,
Whit

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There was a time when I loved myself.Thought I was indestructible.
I’ve learned more since, but I still believe the latter. Not many people live through what I have been through – they give up.

I never will… but one day I just might want to go. IF I ever feel like I have given all I can.
I don’t see that day being anytime soon.

I love you. All of you. If you read this – thank you. I will do whatever I can for you. For us.
Just in something of a low spot for the past years.

I will fly again.

Nothing is easy.

 

It’s been three days since I last took morphine. I am winning. I am a warrior, and this is the current quest. I have many.
Outside my window the clouds block the penetrating sun, offering a spattering of rain from time to time. It’s not enough, not close to a storm – but for now, for me, far better than the hellish cheer of a sunny day.

The words don’t come easily today – my mind is getting in the way of my heart and my heart is from where my words flow. Too many thoughts, too many concerns, too many bills and not enough food – but things will work out. I haven’t starved to death yet – only gone hungry. I think maybe that’s worse, as when you’re alive, you’re aware that you’re hungry, whereas if you’re dead – well, all worries are gone. Simple.

Still, I like this being alive thing. Even if I occasionally moan & wail about it, it’s not half bad most of the time. Just… lonely.

I want to tell you stories. My stories. These stories will shed light on part of my life, though leave the rest in darkness – as they are in my heart.

Is memory a product of the mind or heart? Taking away all we think we know, don’t some memories cause your heart to ache, others to have it soar? I know better, but at the same time I realize I don’t. What do we really know? They say the heart is only a muscle, beating 101,000 times a day, pumping until it stops; but the mind, our subconscious, controls it all – every tiny thing we do, like fingers knowing without looking where the keys are as we type, knowing what letters to write as we scratch paper – but what about love?

We don’t feel love in our minds. We bleed it, the one we love pumping through our veins, our hearts growing, glowing… then breaking. It is a physical pain. We feel it.

These will not be love stories, though love is in them. Or better said, love is just outside of them, circling, searching for a way to break in.

I’ll begin tonight.

 

behind the smile

Where do you say what you can’t?

They tell you to be buoyant. They tell you to be enthusiastic, strong, confident in the words you write, the words you share and hope the world will see. When people visit or hear about my Kickstartercampaign, they don’t want to read my woes or worries.

For now, I put on a plastic smile like a McDonald’s server and don’t show the terror. For now I don’t say what I am truly feeling.
People don’t want their bubble popped. They want to feel confident in my project, to be lifted higher in the buoyancy of my words, as forced & manufactured as they may be at times.

I want to make them happy. I do care. I try to give them what they look for, and I hope by writing the words I will also be lifted.

I can’t write “If this campaign isn’t successful I’ll probably die before the book is finished”. As true as it is, threatening people to support my campaign probably wouldn’t go over too well, y’know?
Still, boiling in this head is the knowledge of what will happen if this campaign doesn’t succeed. The things that only I have known.

Until now.

THIS is where I can scream. Most the people I know on Facebook don’t take the time to read anything over a few sentences, regardless of what they say. Here I find a sanctuary, either real or imagined. On WordPress.
This is where we ALL can be real, be vulnerable. This is the shower we sing in.

My book is all I have anymore. All there is left in me to give. Due to the way this disease works and what it’s done to me I can’t really perform, can’t work. I don’t know the days I’ll be too exhausted or in too much pain to do more than pass the day in bed. Though those days are less, they still happen – and the rest are filled with such a growing hatred for the life I’ve been living since I was released from the hospice that I know with certainty that it’s something I can’t go on with.

The book is/was/will/would have given me a reason, a new breath, a purpose. To go back to living each day worried about getting herbs, to go back to each week with the only thing I can focus on is begging more friends for money to afford them is no life at all.

Every waking moment I’ve had the thought of how my life would change to keep me going, to soon be able to live a life that matters, to have a purpose for each breath.
To enjoy life. This is what the success of the campaign would offer me.

I have envisioned myself a thousand times or more waking up for the first time in years with the excitement of living, of having something I needed to do besides beg for more money. I would sit in random café’s writing, sipping coffee for the flavor and remembering with clarity the amazing life I have lived, smiling to myself as I lifted my head & turned to look out the window and knowing that I’m doing something good. That I once again had value.

I would sit at my Mother’s dining room table, facing the back yard wo I can watch Ruby play, run in and out of the door with the dog my mother and I would find for her in a rescue. She says she wants one and I could get it for her, help her take care of it. Help take care of my Mother. She would come home and ask me about my book, and I would share the stories I had written that day. She would get to know me and I her. We have 48 years to catch up on.

I would hold my head up, a smile glinting off the green in my eyes and hinting on my lips. People would know again. I would know myself again. This is why I am. This is me. I would be full and in love with life. It’s been so long, so long – but I woke, rang the bell above my grave and purpose came to dig me out. I sucked the fresh air into my lungs and this empty heart was filled.

They would read my stories, my life laid bare, naked for them to see and they would see themselves. They would find the parts, the lines that made them stop & look up with a sudden spark of understanding that it only took a decision, that the past didn’t matter and all the smallness they felt would be washed away in the ink of my words staining their face with a determined grin. They would mark the pages, underline sentences, read it again and maybe buy a copy for a friend or two. They would write to me and I wouldn’t feel so alone anymore.

This campaign needs to succeed. I need to write my life, give it away.

The heart inside of me is weary, vacant. I say I love people hoping that in the spoken words I will remember how. The smile on my face is an advance taken from when I can feel it again, when my heart fills with the knowledge that my life has changed from the barren desert it has become. Beg for money, get herbs. I’ve been kept alive by the possibility of the book, the knowledge that when the campaign succeeded it would be written. Take it away and I have nothing I need to live for and I need a reason.

I try to write with an empty heart and find all I can hear are the sucking noises like those a straw makes in a cup that’s been drained by a ravenous thirst.

Also haunting me is a thought.
In September 2010 I walked happy & full of energy into the hospice/respite that I was supposed to spend only three months in. Up until that moment I worked every day on my magazine, setting up interviews, making the site better, writing reviews and each morning stepping out of my motor-home with a smile. Even though my legs were bleeding, swollen, leaking the poisoned fluid my liver couldn’t process and in extreme pain, I still walked with purpose and pride to the café knowing there was something I was needed for.

I wasn’t able to work on CultureFlux in the hospice. I had been doing fine (relatively speaking) before I walked in, living in poor conditions with no money, food, and only enough water to wash my face in the morning – but I had a reason to go on. I loved being able to help other performers through the magazine and I loved giving them a voice.

Within a week my body began to shut down. My skin began falling off, hair coming out in clumps, and I was barely able to walk. One week.

What will happen if the campaign doesn’t succeed? When I don’t have the dream of writing & publishing the book to keep me alive anymore?

The herbs have kept me healthy, but it’s purpose that keeps me alive. From the edge of death in the hospice to the 4.5 years following, I had two things to live for: Finding my Birth Mother and giving this book to the world, hoping my life will inspire theirs.

I have found my Birth Mother.
For anyone who reads this, thank you for letting me vent, and don’t get me wrong – it’s not always like this inside my head. There are still many times when I realize it’s only the 6th day with 5x that more to go, and anything can happen. Hell, Oprah could see it and announce it to the world! It could go viral on Youtube! Anything! The most important thing I need to remember is to NEVER GIVE UP, even as much as I want to and as hard as it can be to dredge up the energy to go on. WE DO NOT GIVE UP.

http://bit.ly/NGGKickASS

I’m going to keep on fighting like hell for the success of this campaign, to make this dream a reality and again have my heart filled with purpose and passion.

It IS possible, and I’ve come from behind to achieve my goal more times than I can count. I mean hell – isn’t that what we do with EVERY dream we realize? We are WARRIORS, and this is what we do!

For anyone interested what all the above is about, here’s a link to my Kickstarter campaign! I wouldn’t mind at ALL if you supported it by making a pledge and/or shared it as far & wide as you can – you would be my new favorite person!
Just – don’t include the above, okay? (winky face)

And when you go there, please take a second to check out the update – I was *amazed* with what people said and want the world to see it too!

To all out there in WordPress land – thank you for being here for me. And thank you for not charging for my therapy.
Any comments of support or suggestions on how

 

 

 

Too Far to Fail Now

Twelve years ago I jumped off a cliff & gave up everything to follow my dreams. I lost my apartment, my car, slept on couches & went hungry – but refused to go back. (As long as my dog was fed!)
Then, my wings unfolded.

I did things. I had incredible adventures. I helped people overcome their self-doubt & perform in front of hundreds of people. Volunteered for Katrina refugees, was one of the first street performers in New Orleans after The Storm. Created an award-winning magazine, produced events, did more things. Met amazing people.
Fell in love.

Then my body decided to die. My unrealized dreams & I disagreed with it, & The Battle was on… and now I’m writing a book about ALL of it.

This book is going to rock your world. Hopefully, it’s going to rock THE world.

It won’t likely be like anything you’ve read before. It’s an authentic, raw, funny, honest, moving and inspiring story of my past twelve years, and how I turned a mundane, unremarkable existence into a beautiful, useful & helpful life. A life that I am finally proud of…

This book is about remembering how to dance with life. About not letting life happen to you anymore, but making it happen foryou. It’s for the dreamers, the believers, those that thrive on the hope of fulfilling the potential we’ve all been blessed with.
And it’s about love.

I just need to get it out to the world.

I’ve come too far to fail.

My Kickstarter launches in 13 DAYS. July 6th, Wednesday.
I’ve crunched numbers, & I fear that I don’t have contact with enough people to succeed in reaching my goal.

I’m going to need your help – not only to change my life, but most importantly inspire others to live theirs.

LET’S CHANGE THE WORLD!

Sign up on my new site – save time & get updates you would otherwise miss! (No flooding – promise.)

www.kseaflux.com

LOVE YOU.

The Way It Works / The Circle

The comforter loosely tucked around my body, the cool air from the slightly open window on my arms a perfect contrast to the soft warmth underneath. Cozy, warm & content as I sit up against the softness of my pillows, Ruby asleep with her back pressed tight against my legs. A single candle glows softly in the sconce on the wall behind me offering just enough light to pick out the letters on my laptop – in the quiet & solitude of 4:30am, the sudden brightness of my reading lamp would shatter this perfect moment.
I can barely see anything.
Screw it. I’ll squint.

I had just woken up thinking how amazing it can be, when things are used well.

Thanks to a few incredible people who are still lifting my spirits, still, even after all this time reminding me that is still one HELL of a warrior inside of me…

– & some ‘creative logic’ on my part in the herb & food needs (i.e. “I *think* I can stretch that out until… um… the 1st? Shit.”) – I was able to afford to take a journey out to El Cerrito yesterday to visit an incredible friend, woman, & fellow warrior who is going through her own medical hell – getting two different, completely soul-crushing messages about 48 hours apart like a fucking double-tap to the heart.

We had a kickass day, hanging out in her room, talking, laughing so hard I *honestly* thought my guts might finally come flying out of me (I was holding them in, squeezing as hard as I could with both arms & yelling at her to shut up before I popped – but would she? NoooOOOoooo – the bitch!) and… just remembering what it felt like to be *normal* people for a few hours, watching stupid TV, singing songs at the top of our lungs and giving each other loving hell.

I needed it just as much as she did, if not quite a bit more. There’s a healing in just simply that connection, that amount of love that that no medicine, no herb, no “perfect living” can *ever* equal.

We talked about our animals, and both wondered if either of us would still be alive without them… and she had the amazing idea of making a Youtube video about the caring for them – what they like, what they need, can or can’t eat – what makes them happy, the treats they like or a certain way they like to be scratched, or petted – or not…
Just in case.

Just in case so if anything ever did happen, if we weren’t able to talk or move or…

Then at least we would know that, even then, we still did our best for them…
On the way out there, some dancers got on the BART train, did their speech blahblahblah… and as they began I moved my eyes up from my writing, looked at them – then looked around at the other passengers, who were nearly ALL doing their best to ignore these courageous kids who were dancing for THEM, maybe in hopes to shine a little more color on the grey, Friday evening lives they lived.

They were, actually, pretty good! Did that new thing where it looks like your entire upper body has had every bone broken and swivels put in to repair the job instead of pins.
And thanks to those who help *me* – I was able to offer them something. I pulled out $5 – not much but a lot for me at the time, and the worst part is – I was sitting four rows back from the door, and as the hat-holder got to me after I *called* him to come over – that $5 was the only bill that they left with.
Still, they left the car in style – saying their thank-you’s & smiling.

After the day with Isa & finally back in the City, walking through Civic Center BART there were a couple guys around my age setting up – one in a wheelchair, but still somehow tall & lanky with pencil-dreads, his partner shorter but still thin, and looking close you could see what appeared to be not an easy life in their faces.

Then, as I took the first couple of steps up the escalator, they started singing – and I jumped back down. Goddamn. They sang an old spiritual, lanky in a *low* base & his partner harmonizing beautifully – I had $3 left in my pocket, so gave them that…

and I made my way back up the escalator into the frigid San Francisco night with my p-coat pulled tight, hat brim down – and an enormous smile beaming out from underneath it, still humming the spiritual.
And none of this would have ever been able to happen without you – you know who you are.
Thank you.