Deciding to Live

It’s time for everything to change. Again.
I’ve become complacent, undisciplined – and I need to come back.

I’ve read countless books on motivation, habits, procrastination, visualizing, raising energy, and anything that I thought would help. Some were crap, many got me inspired – for a couple days. I could never follow through like I used to. Something inside of me had broken, and I didn’t have the constant challenge to survive to inspire me.

That is, as strange as it sounds, what I think I miss the most. The fear. The adversity. It’s what inspired me to act on the first day I walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf alone, in full statue dress & makeup. It’s what inspired me to create an online magazine when I didn’t even know the first things about creating a website.
But it wasn’t just the adversity that inspired me. It was the love. The love I had for what I was doing, and the love of walking through the fear and feeling like I did something that mattered on the other side.

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out what it was that made me jump into things that I had no idea how to do, and when I realized the answer a few days ago, it was so simple it was absurd.

The one difference, the only thing that will ever create a lasting change in my life, and let me take my jewelry business from more or less a hobby to what I want it to become, the only thing that is different from those things and this is:
I made a decision to do them.
That’s it.

I could read thousands of books, watch hundreds of Ted talks, listen to podcasts until my ears bleed, but that is little more than mental masturbation – letting me feel like I’m doing something of value when nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just very clever procrastination.

Because I am afraid, and for some reason, I’m now letting that get in the way of doing what needs to be done. But that’s another something to look at and figure out another time.

I know that as much as I love making jewelry, there will be many times when I don’t. When I can’t find the right words for the “About” page, when I can’t think of what to write for a post on my site blog, and when I’m just not comfortable doing what needs to get done in order for this to grow. Without a solid, unwavering decision to do what it takes, I’ll never get to where I want. Never be who I want to be. Who I AM.

So it’s time for everything to change. Now.
It won’t be easy, not at first. I know that, and I’m expecting it – but eventually, as long as I show up and do the work, it will get easier. I just need to show up, and do the things that I need to, regardless of how uncomfortable I am with it or how afraid. I’ve been here before, and I know that, as long as I do what I need to, day after day, it WILL get easier.

And another thing I know: When I show up, so does the Universe – and doors that I’ve never even imagined will start opening to me.
They always have.

If you read this, please feel free to comment with what you think – and especially, call me out if you ever see me flagging.

Because there aren’t any excuses anymore. I’ll deal with the physical pain when it comes, and I’ll work through the fatigue. The time of floating is past, and it’s time to fly again.

I’ve made my decision.

 

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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.

The Fog Clears…

Five days. Five days and six hours. And 35 minutes. Every moment important in the beginning, every moment a choice. A challenge. Sometimes it’s hard, other times harder. I feel that at this moment I am safe. Safe in my words, in the stories. Safe as long as I keep writing.

Eight feet away from where I now sit on my bed is my antique writing desk, and inside of it’s single drawer is somewhere around 80 pills of morphine in various doses. Their summoning losing strength, getting quieter as time moves forward. Their power over me is fading.

As time moves forward I feel the pain less and feel what the reason I chose to go through it more. My mind is waking up. I was kept awake by my thoughts last night, not the pain. I rejoiced in this, even as tired as I was from the two sleepless nights before. It has been years since the chattering in my head was so loud, so clear. The fog is lifting. This morning while reading I stopped in the middle of a sentence & out of need grabbed my pen and paper to write. I recalled when that used to happen a few times a day, but can’t remember the last time it did. The fog is lifting. The pain is leaving.

And I rejoice.

and I rejoice

The San Francisco heat wave, our yearly week of Summer, finally breaks & I quietly rejoice. I am not made for hot weather – or at least hot weather where there isn’t a clean ocean or river or lake or large puddle to go swimming or stomping in.

September is knocking on the door of October, and if I had to choose a favorite, I think October would be it. I remember the way some of the places I have lived changed their color, the reds & oranges & hints of stubborn green flooding the air & ground as if the world was on fire, sacrificing itself in some sacred way to become the stark, haunting & beautiful bare branches of Winter.

The energy of Change is in the air. It finds its way into my blood – and my memory.

Twelve years & four days ago I decided to follow my dreams, whatever they were & whatever it took. Shortly after I was working with The Dresden Dolls & my life changed forever.

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It was on this day that my beloved Bean was hit by a train in Austin & killed, a few hours and eleven years ago.

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Ten years less a week ago I received an email from Mike asking if I was interested in becoming a permanent part of the Vau De Vire family.

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Six years & eight days ago I first stepped into the hospice, walking in easily enough but rapidly dying one week later as my body began to shut down.

Five years & a month ago I did what the doctors thought impossible, and walked out alive.

Four years & a month ago I talked with my Birth Mother for the first time in my life.

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Nov. 23, 2013

Two years & a week ago I first spoke to my Birth Father, who until shortly before that had no idea I existed.

And now I feel the story of this man should – will – change again. I’ve already begun to kick a nine-year morphine addiction & plan to have that entirely behind me in less than a week… yet I feel that is far from enough. I want more. Monumental change. I thrive on the shit. It’s my lifeblood, my constant need. When life gets too comfortable, too predictable, I have a bad habit of stepping into a dangerous dance to bring back, to summon life’s music – and far too much is dangerous these days.

The dreams I still have, but the energy to reach for them is as scarred as my liver. I will keep moving forward, doing my best to rip through the barriers, the walls both inside & out. Both physical & mental.
The failed Kickstarter shook me. It hit hard and I fell.
It’s time to rise again. Dust myself off and move on.
I will keep moving forward.
I will live to make my dreams come true.

I see the sun shining outside, feel the sharp chill of the breeze that cuts through my window. Today will be cooler…

and I rejoice.

falling apart to fall back together

Four days, and as the clock relentlessly ticks down I count every hour with a strange combination of sheer terror and wary excitement, my emotions swinging from one to the other like spectators heads in a high-energy tennis match.

Two days ago I picked up my last Morphine prescription, and as the bottles were handed to me I looked at them with a feeling of triumph. This is it.

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I mostly know what to expect. I’ve done this before, 28 years ago, and again a bit more recently when my motorhome was towed with all of my meds inside. It’s not what I remember that frightens me the most, though those memories still clutch at my mind and sink their diseased claws in when I try to make myself believe that I’m strong enough.

No. It’s the things I know I don’t remember that frighten me the most. The whispered shadows of the nightmare, the parts that my mind gratefully thrust out of my memory in an act of self preservation. The small things that are lost in the fog.

The Fog.

It’s surrounded me for over nine years, from when I finally gave in to my doctor’s concern & offer of something to help with the pain that twisted my face, carving each line on it deeper like a Halloween mask of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”… the only difference being that my screams, I kept inside. At least when I could.

With the first pill they finally went away, and I was so grateful I almost cried, even through the personal guilt and failure of feeling like I wasn’t strong enough, that I had finally lost to what for so many years I had conquered when necessary, not even taking so much as a Tylenol-3 or even an aspirin when I broke my leg skateboarding, tore apart the tendons & dislocated my shoulder when my van rolled 5 times across I-5, and hundreds of other minor bangs, bashes & aches. Those, I knew, would all pass, and all I had to do was hold strong and stand my ground. This time though, instead of fading, getting better & finally going away, the pain only increased. With each day, with each strip of flesh on my legs that caught under my fingernails while the poisoned fluid pooled and the unbearable itching multiplied, the pain grew and my conviction deteriorated…

There were, of course, many, many  times I needed them, so if I chose not to take that first pill then, it was just a matter of time before I did. When the cirrhosis decided to go to town on my body, it’s two favorite places to destroy were my legs and abdomen – and it was like a category-6 tornado in a trailer park. From the swelling to the point where I couldn’t bend my legs & had to cut the legs of my pajamas to be able to squeeze into them to the itching so horrid from the poisons my liver couldn’t process I cut myself open with my own fingernails, to the pressure from the swelling in my abdomen & legs so severe the fluid actually started pushing out of the skin on my calves and pushing my intestines out of my navel, to the pain from the occasional infections that slipped right by even the highest doses of morphine – I was certainly grateful for it at times…

 
…but as the months & years continued and the pain slowly subsided, when I began to wonder and doubt how necessary the morphine was anymore, I knew I was screwed. Sure, there was still the mild constant pain from my calves that never fully healed or grew back more than the thinnest layer of protective skin, and there was still the occasional breakthrough pain in my abdomen – but nothing I thought – that I think – that I can’t deal with. Nothing so bad that my body’s own pain killer can’t handle it. Nothing so severe that the mind/body & quantum healing practices I discovered and used in the hospice and the surprising strength I found in my mind can’t handle it.

There’s only one small problem. My brain has completely shut down all of it’s own natural pain killers. Feeling unloved & un-needed, the receptors that normally block everything bad have gone on to other tasks where they feel more appreciated. I wish I knew more of the science of it – it’s not entirely endorphins or dopamine but a combination of the two along with some other things. That’s what I kind of know. I know the human body is fucking amazing. We all should kiss ourselves every day and thank it for all it does for us.

I know without any question, without the slightest hint of doubt at all – what I know intimately – is that the human body is in constant pain. Anyone who hasn’t experienced the feeling of not having any help at all from your body to dull pain cannot even come close to imagining what it’s like when you feel EVERYTHING.
I don’t feel as if I can explain it well enough right now, nor do I want to.

But I want my body back. I want my mind back, and all the things working as they should  again. I want to feel alive again- with all the pain, passion, love, joy, excitement & fear.

So here we are, nine years later. And I’m fucking done. Things need to change and that is the most obvious one. The feeling of the morphine sticking felt thorns of stupid into my brain is over – or will be soon. First, I need to pay for those lost years, and I know I will – dearly – but every second will be worth it. Nine years of mental fog, nine years of suppressed emotion – the passion, love, excitement, joy, happiness and everything else a person feels on a daily basis has all been muffled, like my mind & heart trying to speak to me through a sealed door.
(Hm. That’s an interesting mental picture.)

On September 21st I will take my final dose of morphine, hopefully for the rest of my life. On the 22nd I’ll begin to feel the withdrawals. They don’t come at once, of course – they gradually build, if I remember correctly, over about three days – but it’s like sticking your hand into a put of 75 degree (Celsius) water. It’s not boiling yet, but it sure as hell isn’t pleasant.
This ought to be interesting.

But WAIT! That’s not all!

To make things completely absurd, I’ve also decided to quit smoking at the exact same time. I mean hell – If I’m going to change my life, I may as well just jump right in with both feet. Get rid of all the things that I’ve been wanting to quit.
In a way I suspect that it will give me something to laugh at myself about – like when you stub your toe and hop around like a fool, feeling like a dumb-ass and laughing through the pain – except in this example I’ll be writhing in pain, wanting a cigarette, and laughing at myself because only someone who is a complete and utter fool would consider quitting both morphine and cigarettes at the same time, and I’ve always held the self-imposed title of “Fool” quite proudly at times such as this.

But there’s something else which is more of an experiment than anything: I have this notion that kicking morphine AND cigarettes at the same time will somehow drive the point that I am now (or will be horribly soon) a non-smoker home a bit harder, because I know smoking is going to be the hardest one in the long run – and I’m in this game to win. So far, I haven’t died 100% of the time, so I’m doing pretty good I think.

When the door is opened, when the fog clears and for the first time in nine years there is no drugged buffer repressing all of the beautiful and horrible things inside of me, I suspect it will be one hell of a ride as I become accustomed to feeling *everything* again – I mean hell, in preparation I’ve cut down the regular dose of 60 – 90mg through the day to one 30mg pill in the morning, and was nearly bawling during parts of the movie “Pete’s Dragon” I watched earlier tonight.

As I said, it’s going to be one hell of a ride. It should make for some interesting blog posts as well.

I should probably apologize in advance to anyone I offend, but honestly – if you get offended, it’s your trip, not mine. Fasten your seat-belts, put on a couple extra layers of skin – and Lighten Up. Things are likely going to get a bit crazy.

Wish me luck.

And please – I’d like it if you commented, if you wish. It will help me not feel so alone.
Comments & ‘likes’ left on my WordPress blog are MUCH more appreciated than those on Facebook, as well.

Four days until I begin to rip myself apart. I’m excited to see what the rebuild will look like.

And I need to figure out whaat kind of art project I’m going to make out of these:
(
I haven’t counted them, but I suspect I have about forty that I’ve saved over the past couple years = when I remembered to.)

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

 

It’s time.

I drifted off to sleep last night with a hundred (or maybe 10) thoughts in my head of how weary of this life of thesamegoddamnedthing day after day, pretending to exist in the world around me with a head full of morphine, digging as deep as I can, past the haze & the hollowness just to feel all the things that nine years ago flowed with such purpose, vim, vigor and passion to the tips of my fingers, and from there it was a direct channel to my heart and all of the things that boiled inside.

I drifted off to sleep last night with ten (or maybe 5) thoughts rolling around in my head of how I had come to loathe this incessant fight for health, battling the swelling in my abdomen & legs every single day, the membrane-thin skin that tears like paper from the open sores caused by nothing more than scrubbing a bit too hard in the shower, the Fatigue, the Fatigue, the Fatigue.

And I woke up with the same conviction to change these things. Life has become nauseatingly uneventful, every day trying to battle the fatigue to conjure up the energy to create something new and, not being able to, feeling as if I’ve failed the day. That I’m not appreciating this life as I should, that I’m not fucking LIVING – and this needs to change.

By the end of the month I will have gone through the pure fucking hell of kicking Morphine. I need a little excitement in my life, and hoping I can race fast enough to the bathroom on legs that want to detach themselves from me & go other directions should be enough – at least for the time.

Then, more fun. Because I deserve it – and hell, this will be something *new*! I like new things, even if they’re used. Frequently especially if they’re used.

Sooooooo…

At my appointment with my Doctor on the 12th of this month, I’m going to open up talks – this time, for the *first* time, instigated by me instead of him, & more positive this time – of a liver transplant. He’s going to shit fucking rainbows. He’s been gently pressing me to get on the list for a transplant for years.

I have mixed feeling about the liver transplant. It seems like the easy way out, in a sense. Just take out the old one that’s killing me and put in a brand new shiny one… one that could easily go to someone else who needs it more. And I still believe that I can reverse my cirrhosis, do it myself… but there is also no way to determine if the herbs I’m taking are helping, as the test that would show that wouldn’t be covered by insurance unless there’s a good reason, and my guess is using herbs to fix what Western Medicine says can NOT be fixed wouldn’t be considered a good reason.

But it’s time. Time to change things, time to rip myself apart & put me together again – this time whole, with the pieces that have been left behind over the years found & fit & made to work again.
And I’m willing to take the easy way out – as long as it isn’t *too* easy.

It’s time.

back in.

 

It’s hard for me to accept. Impossible to foresee what the outcome will be.

Either all I have worked for comes to fruition and my life changes entirely, or… it doesn’t.

Like the 1st letter I sent to the person who, after searching for 25 years, I knew was my birth mother, and the wait after that. Like fighting so hard and so long to make a dream come true that the final act of jumping into the unknown is the only direction to go anymore, I need to take a deep breath, and believe.

It’s time to let go.

Let go of nearly all of the control I had, and just do my best to aim away from the rocks and trees as I soar past them, faster than I’ve become familiar with over the years of lying immobile in a hospital bed and then my own, planning for this time as life passed me by.

It’s time to join life again. To jump back in the game.

It’s getting closer. It’s what I have worked so hard for. It’s what I have studied far too much for – and I’m terrified. I need to remember how to love being afraid, because I *sure* as hell have forgotten – and I recall not that long ago when being afraid, when doing something I had NO idea how to do was like a drug for me – a euphoria. Where the hell did that person go?
I need to do some digging around inside of me & find him again. Maybe he’s just sleeping – feeling unloved and under used.

This will light a fire under his ass.

Very soon, it comes to the point where I have to release this to the world, and see if they approve. See if they are interested enough in me enough to support my project, and hope that they are.

Will they see me? Do they want to know me?

Will they love me?

Sure, I’m frightened – but I also believe that it’s time to light a fire under MY ass, and which-ever way this goes – in some way, it will be successful.