Book Excerpt – Dungeons & a Dragon

It was no surprise when I walked up the stairs & found the eviction papers taped to my apartment door. I was just surprised that they took so long to appear. When my new house-mates first rent check bounced however, I knew it was time to start packing.  In a strange way it was exciting – I imagined the papers as a passport to a new life, like a baby bird kicked out of the nest and into a tornado.

Having a feeling that this was coming I had already began to prepare, and now my entire life was portable, fitting into two duffel bags and a backpack. I put the books I couldn’t bear to part with and a few sentimental things into boxes to be stored at a friend’s house, and after I had sold or given away everything I could, I set the rest out on the sidewalk and went back inside to clean.

San Francisco has a wonderful system – many people I know have furnished their entire apartments with treasures found on the street, and much of mine was as well – from the gorgeously ornate wrought-iron wall sconce the size of a semi-truck tire to the beautiful hand-blown glass bowl which I kept on the coffee table, filled with the soft glow of blue Christmas lights that I bought at a post-Halloween sale. They were cheap, so I stocked up. A person can never have enough tiny lights to practice their patience – or failing that – their cursing, as they tried to untangle them.
I put the remainder of my things in front of my apartment and went back upstairs to do some cleaning. After about an hour I glanced out the window & what was a somewhat sizeable pile before, with chairs, a couch, various lamps, clothes & random other things that had found their way into my apartment had almost entirely disappeared. It was as if I had missed the middle part of the sped-up video where the maggots clean a dead rat down to bone.
Curious about this phenomenon, I wanted to gather more of my things and set them out there, then peek out from behind a curtain with a video camera and watch what happened. I imagined that there was a network of scavengers who prowled the neighborhoods in cars & on foot, looking for piles such as the one I had put outside, and when they found one the alarm went out. They got on their phones or cupped their hands around their mouth & made strange animal calls, alerting the rest of the foragers to the booty. Of course, in my head, they weren’t normal  people – they were some post-apocalyptic dystopian creatures, some with mechanical limbs, dressed in dusty black leather with wild hair & eyes, who had trailers made of steel & lethal stabby-things hooked to their flat-black Prius’s, and worked with lightning fast efficiency.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a video camera or anything else to set outside and lure them, so the mystery still remains unsolved.

I had previously announced on a social network my imminent eviction, and was offered a few places where I could rest my head by the wonderful community of freaks I called friends. Bean made it more difficult, as most were apologetically not able to host a tragic, homeless Klown as well as an 85 pound dog.

All except one, offered by a person named Bob who I had met only once before. It was a home in the middle of the Mission District of San Francisco, Bob spent five days of the week at work in New Jersey, flying back on the weekends on his employer’s dime, and the only other person who lived there was the woman who owned the house.
There was just one catch. Bob’s dog already called it home, and while to most humans he was the sweetest, most loving beast – he had been trained by a former owner to joyfully rip the throats out of any other animal he came within destroying distance of. Bean was welcome though, and that was the most important thing.

Bob picked me up a few days after we talked, and when we arrived at the house I couldn’t believe where I would be living. It was a beautiful two-story Edwardian house with an enormous beauganvilla draped over the entry gate, as if it were a portal to a different world. Shortly after, I realized how fitting that observation was as I met the owner (a woman who was perhaps in her late forties who had the look of someone who rated daily personal upkeep pretty low on the chart) & she told me about what the 2nd floor was primarily used for in this quiet, seemingly ordinary house, then took me on a tour.

“I’m going to give you some chores to do while you’re staying here.” She said as we started walking up the stairs.
“Sure, of course. No problem.”
“If a certain room is booked twice in a day it’s the girls job to clean it for the next, but I want you to come up here when it’s empty at least once a day and make certain things are in their place and the room is clean. Don’t worry – the girls are responsible for anything that gets soiled with any kind of body fluids, you just need to take the bags of towels down to the wash room & straighten up.”
Girls? Body fluids? Vague, seedy images started coming to my mind, but I couldn’t have expected what I was led into.

She led me from room to room, each room designed perfectly for its use. I thought that I wasn’t naïve, already being a part of the BDSM scene pretty heavily for a few years at that time, but this was another level. I’d heard about it, of course – but I could have never before then imagined them on the second floor of a house that looked just like any other nice place when you first walked inside. Living room, kitchen, laundry room, nice looking but nothing at all hinting at what was found at the top of the stairs.
I tried to keep my jaw from dropping open and looking like an idiot as she opened the doors to the various rooms and led me inside of each. A medical fetish room complete with steel trays with various strange implements and a surgery table, a baby fetish room with a crib, flowery wallpaper, drawers full of pacifiers & diapers, and of course, the BDSM room. Walls lined with hanging floggers, canes, cats, paddles & so much more, a beautiful St Andew’s Cross, a cage – it was elegant. Exquisite. I was in complete awe, feeling like a kid in a candy store… and this is the house I would be living in, at least temporarily.

From sleeping on beaches, in abandoned warehouses, and living with my meth dealer as a teenager, I’d felt I’d really stepped up my homeless game. What I didn’t know at the time was that the woman who had just taken me in would end up being quite a challenge to live with. While at first she seemed stable and at least tolerably balanced, I would soon start to understand that she was pretty far from sane…

 

 

 

 

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Accidental becoming

In the years that I’ve been contemplating, organizing, printing out reams of old blog posts and ripping them apart for the words that might matter, in all the years of such meticulous procrastination that I even impressed myself, I think that now, at long last, I am actually doing it, word by word.

I’m writing my damned book. From page one this time, instead of from any and all of the 600 or so pages of stories that I’ve compiled over this life, bouncing around in the absurdity of it with the intention of re-writing all the stories and them putting them together into some sort of intelligible masterpiece. This time, I’m starting at the beginning – and it seems to be working. It is working.

One thing I’ve realized though – there is no way that this could possibly be only one book.

I’ll write more in here later, as I’ve done my morning book-writing and need to get my ass in gear since I got a bit caught up in not wanting to stop, but seeing as that feeling – the feeling of not wanting to stop instead of trying to hook and rip every word out of my heart like they were swallowed by a fish – that’s a welcome sign.

I think I’m back.

A Warrior Awakened

There was a time that I was called, by many, a warrior.
I have fought for the life I dreamed of and found it, I have fought through what most thought what was the inevitability of death and rose above.

For a long time, I looked for a different word than “fight” – but truly, nothing fits this better.

I will always fight for something better – whether it be myself or others – but it’s usually me, usually the things that have been ingrained in me that I battle.
Eventually, I always win – for now.

A warrior is not your everyday ignorant fighter – there is discipline involved, knowing the good from the bad, knowing the battles that you’re above, knowing the battles you can’t win and walking away.

When the person you battle is yourself, the same rules apply. The same discipline. The same grace.

This is my life right now, looking over my past and yearning for a better future because of it. I fight. I learn. I battle the ghosts and old bones inside of me.

I’m learning again, teaching myself, climbing up to grace.

Eighteen months in  a hospital and all that went with it crushed me…

But I will be that warrior again – and I will bring you with me – if you desire.

Do you?

Digging up the bones

Only a couple short but full months into my memoir I find that it’s far from as simple as I thought it would be. I knew it wouldn’t be easy by any means, but as I go through my past writing, my past life, I can’t help but be taken back to that time. The words again become my near-reality, and each carries a blade that slices a small part of my heart.

As if I don’t already have enough scar tissue there.

I have been outed, hated and vilified for keeping my HIV & Hep-C status from public knowledge in the highly sex positive community  I was in, my dog & I are a few days away from being homeless, I’m barely surviving, simple things such as eating are a luxury, and I’m terrified – but I still refuse to give up on my dreams, even though I have little idea what they are.

I just went to my first Dresden Dolls show at Cafe du Nord, a tiny basement bar that kept the air of its past, with deep red walls and thick velvet curtains draped opulently around the room. ANd ten foot ceilings, foot high stage. In the prohibition era, they did what they could, where they could – and du Nord kept that…
That was the first time I performed with the Dolls, getting a corset piercing in front of the small stage before they went on.

Whitney is just about to email me, treating me to lunch and telling me about a “proposal”. She also just told me that Amanda has a crush on me, in the shortened time of the memoir.

My life is simultaneously falling apart and coming together, but all I can see is the former. I had little idea what the next few months would hold – a life that had meanst nothing to me or anyone else becoming something I finally wanted to keep living in, a life that made a difference, a life… of value.

I didn’t know that then. I was just trying to find something I loved to do. Something I was good at somehow, something that gave me a reason.
And I did.

The places I decay into while writing this book are no one else’s business, but I’ll try to keep up here, try to write about it. Writing is what I know, deep inside of me, that can bring me peace. The only thing. I’ve been doing it for 33 years – and I’m still, somehow, alive.

It was writing that took my pistol out of my mouth, it was writing that washed away all the other times I decided it was time to end. This is what I do. I just need to remember how – how to keep my mind out of it, listen to the words that blow on the wind through my heart.

I think I do have something to offer… but the challenge is trying to write without worrying about how I’m going to afford to feed my dog and me. Everything was going so well, things were coming together, people were buying ad space on CultureFlux.com – and then my life stopped, was almost gone.

Coming so close to death changes a person. I still feel it, still wear the spiritual and physical scars – but gods, I learned more than I could eve have imagined.

= = = = =

I’m still a couple months from my attempted move to Boston, still a couple months from volunteering at the private refugee camp in Austin, still a few months…
Still a few months from Bean being killed by a train.

I wonder who I am now. I have my past. I have what I’ve been through… but what do I have now?

I frequently think that we live through things just to say “That happened to me.” to me, not someone else. I live in the same world as all of you – I’ve just seen more of it. As I’m certain some of you have, as well.

Sometimes, life can only begin with the understanding of death. Of dying. Sometimes it ends – not physically, but in spirit.
I was told that I was dead when I was 19 years old. A call from a doctor telling me I had the AIDS virus. Back then, over 95% of people who contracted it died miserably, painfully within 18 months.

Think about that.

I lived a good part of my life afraid to try anything that took more than a month to learn, afraid to go back to school and feel like I, again, didn’t finish what I set out to do – and terrified of loving anyone. More terrified of them loving me.

but here I am and how? WHY me?

Here’s a little secret: I felt that the Universe kept me alive so I could finally find my birth-mother. When I was writing my first letter to her, asking if she was – I felt, i KNEW that the moment I met her the one purpose I had been allowed to live for would be achieved, and I would come as close to dying on the spot as possible.
Rational? There is no logic in this, no logic why I am STILL alive. But I am.

And maybe that’s why it so difficult to get this book done.

Somewhere in my life there is that last thing I need to do, and that last thing will take it away.

Now that I think about it – I have had a good life. I am not afraid of death in the least – I’m incredibly intimate with it. We’re buddies.

TIme to get writing this fucking book again.

 

Stubborn as f*ck.

Hey everybody!

I’d like to thank you all again, while I have you here in such rapt attention, for your support those few short months ago. You guys taught me a lot – or more accurately said, reminded me of something: The book is the most important thing. Getting it written, sharing a story that will be crazy enough for someone else to read and most likely say something akin of “All of the sudden, my life doesn’t doesn’t seem so bad!” or, of course “Okay, screw this miserable life. I’m going to follow my dreams like this guy!”

(I’m going to need to put a legal disclaimer on this book, aren’t I?)

So yeah, the book. That’s what I’ve come to talk to you about. Dig this:
In 5 days, on November 1st, I begin an incredibly optimistic endeavor. Y’see, I’ve joined a thing called NaNoWriMo, which is short-ish for National Novel Writing Month. Yeah, it’s a thing.
While “they” encourage you to write 50,000 words in 30 days, I did the math and that’s, like – 126 pages, or something. Half a novel.

SO, me being who I am (which is somewhere between a damned fool and a very ambitious dreamer) I’ve decided to shoot for 120,000 words in 30 days. Because maybe I work better with an impossible challenge. Or maybe I’m a godsdamned genius. Or maybe I’m a friggin’ moron.  I still haven’t figured that one out.

But what will I do with an entire novel, an earth-shattering, life changing, epic opus of literature sitting around on my computer? What good is THAT?  No good at all, that’s what good it is.

So this is the plan: Somewhere around the 13th of November (if I’m not catatonic from trying to write 4000 words/day) I’m going to launch an IndieGoGo campaign. It’s like Kickstarter, except you get to keep the pledges of support – which is a fancy way of saying “the cash”. This time, instead of reaching for the stars, I’m only going for the moon. Enough for good editing, publishing, promotion & marketing, and paying the artist who helped me in the original campaign. Not in that order, The artists time comes first. Maybe some so I don’t have to eat my shoes or dog. (This “starving artist” thing is SO not as cool as it sounds.)

Yeah. 120,000 words in 30 days without going completely insane, just mostly. Then edit the crap out of it, and get the book published. And as an afterthought, not die.

Wish me luck! And hey – if by some strange chance you want to support my eating AND getting the book out to the world, you can feed me through Paypal! Not actually food as it’s not one of those rat-maze reward trigger things (which is the official scientific name), but a way to get some. Gods, I love this modern world. Sometimes. My Paypal address is Casey@kseaflux.com. That’s also my email address. Cool, huh? TECHNOLOGY! (Accepting food help starting now. See “Starving Artist” reference above.)

NOW, I need to go prepare more for this insanity. Currently I’m hiding sharp things and padding the walls & my laptop (which might or might not get thrown across the room). And giving anything that could be considered poison to the nice family in the apartment next door to hold. And figuring out chapter titles to kind-of keep me on track so the book doesn’t explode.

I’ll be talking to you all again soon, and again – thank you! (If you DON’T hear from me, please send help. Coffee or whiskey. Or new fingertips. )

LOVE YOU ALL!
~ Casey

Waking Dreams / NaNoWriMo

A few days ago I looked backwards at my life, saw the roads I had taken. There were those that I joined most everyone on, all of us working as hard as we could to stay in one spot. That is what I was taught. Hard work & no dreams. They tried to take them away from me at an early age, my dreams – but even though I might have forgotten them, my dreams were still there, deep inside, dormant but alive. The story begins when I broke trail, headed off the road into the trees and hoped I survived. I was dying anyway.

I tried to look forwards to see if I could divine anything. I could, but I can’t be sure it was honest. We all see where we want to be, few see how to get there or are willing to do the work. I’m speaking of dreams. Waking dreams, of who we wish to be.

Who we know we are, somewhere inside.

The most difficult part is believing. In ourselves, in what we truly are capable of. I am reminded of a quote I’ve always loved from Marianne Williamson ~
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

My own shine has grown harder to see & remember over the recent past years. If you know this blog you know why. I’m not making excuses. The pain made me lazy. The morphine made me unreliable. Maybe I am making excuses.

It’s time to SHINE again.

It’s time to live, to do what I need, to do the things that remind me of who I am. It’s time to remind myself that no dream is unattainable. It’s time to challenge myself again.

So I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. For those who don’t know what it is. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. 1,667 words a day, and construct something like a gorgeous vagabond – unrefined, dirty, maybe even angry – but beautiful.
Many people try. Many more fail. It’s not easy – but then again, what good thing is?

The thing is – that’s not enough. Not enough for my book, Not going Gently, about a man who gave up everything to follow his dreams, and through incredible adventures and near death, found himself. The thing is – mine is true to the letter – or at least memory. Edited very well, I suspect it will be more along the lines of 120,000 words.

So that’s what  am shooting for. 120,000 words in 30 days? Fuck me… but I can do it.

At the recommendation of a few trusted friends, I have decided to set up an IndieGoGO thing to help me through it all, and hopefully through that be able to afford editing, publishing, & coffee. LOTS OF COFFEE. You’ll be alerted to that soon.

If I don’t make it financially, at least my book will be written.

You’ll just never see it.

So wish me luck, and… in 11 days, THIS SHIT IS ON!!!

Love you all.
Make good dreams, and keep reaching for them.

 

The beauty of it all

Saturday – it was another hot, humid day in New Orleans, 2006. Everything was normal – I was miserable from the sticky heat, but determined. If I had missed this day, I would never have known how beautiful the world could be. At least not in this way.

I got down to Jackson Square about 3:30, then checked to see if the prime pitch was open, directly across Decatur Street from Cafe’ du Monde, and the leading tourist location for busking in The Quarter. I’ve always done well statuing there.
The pitch was being used, but the guy using it told me he had to split at 4 – so I waited, and when it was time, set up, got up on my box, and began the day of standing very, very still.
It was the usual crowd, tourists, families, groups of girls and boys, drunken fools who can’t seem to think of anything else to say except the typical “I’ll bet you he’d move if I grabbed his box/grabbed his crotch/tickled him – har har har…”
It’s an incredibly peaceful job at times, but also one that you need to be on guard pretty much all the time. I recently described statuing to a friend as “much more of a discipline than a talent”. It’s a strange combination of ignoring everything, but at the same time being acutely aware of everything that’s going on around me. It’s the people that make it so rewarding – the children whose faces completely light up in amazement as I offer them a wink and subtle smile as their parents look away, as if letting them in on a secret that’s just for us; it’s the older people who walk by and quietly give me beautiful compliments, even – and perhaps the most appreciated, the occasional gutter punk who digs deep in his/her unwashed pocket to give me what change they can offer. I will never cease to be amazed and humbled by that…
But it’s also the *other* people that sometimes I can’t help but slowly look down at, raise a disapproving eyebrow, and solemnly, silently, shake my head in pity. Fortunately, this frequently seems to get approval from their friends.
Most commonly I have found it to be, predictably, the people with drinks in hand, drunk and wandering around, who can’t help but fuck with the statue a bit – but they’re usually harmless, and after the initial foolishness switch over to words of appreciation, then they’re off to the next bar.
That’s always nice – both the switch, and the leaving.
The worst I have encountered, however, are the packs of whatever-teen year olds. Some of these kids just mess around harmlessly, saying silly things, searching for the approval of their friends, having fun – but only a couple of weeks ago I came the closest I have ever been to putting my cane to use before looking at the two most offending of this pack of about 15 and saying “Little boy, little girl – get the fuck away from me. NOW.”
They had been standing there for about twenty minutes, and as much as I have dealt with doing this, as much as I can tolerate – or “stand for”, (pun intended) as the case may be, at that point I was pushed to my limit. Thankfully, they left shortly after.

That’s why this past Saturday, as I saw a pack of about eight or nine girls making their way directly towards me from Cafe’ du Monde, I was a bit apprehensive. When I heard one of the two in front say “Okay – you ready?” to the girl next to her as she was looking at me, I thought to myself “Oh, shit, this is it…” wondering how I could react, somehow, with grace to whatever they were about to do to me, or how I could prevent it altogether. I wasn’t coming up with anything. I had no idea what they had planned. I had no choice but to wait and see, as jumping off the box and asking them just what the *FUCK* they thought they were about to do just didn’t seem too graceful or appropriate just yet…

What happened next was truly amazing.
For those that don’t know, Cafe du Monde sells a French style pastry called a beignet (bin-yay)- a rectangular pastry type thing, the best in the world in as much as I haven’t travelled it – and completely covered in powdered sugar. Completely. Saturated. Drenched, flooded, soaking in powdered sugar. More powdered sugar than you could ever have a use for in a simple order of three beignets, or your entire lifetime, and inevitably there will be mountains of it left on the plate, long after the beignets & café au leit are gone.

When the two leading girls were about two and a half feet away – just at the very edge of the box people put money in for me, their hands simultaneously came up – and as I tried to assess just what the hell was going on, saw the powdered sugar streaming from them – and then, they did something I couldn’t have imagined – they smeared the powdered sugar all over their faces. First the two, then the rest of them, coming to stand beside me, making their faces as white as possible with the powdered sugar, and doing quite a good job of it.

In a glorious way, I had been beaten. I could not have felt more honored.

I laughed – laughed well, stepped down off my box and bowed deeply to them all, then handed one of the first two my cane, and set my hat on her head as I helped her get up on my box for the pictures.

Once the pictures had been taken, one of them asked me if they had made my day. “My DAY?” I said. “You have made my day, my week, my month, my year. This is hands down, the best experience I have ever had statuing – and thank you.”

For some reason, that seemed to surprise her – but then a huge smile of peaceful satisfaction for a job so *very* well done crossed her face, she giggled, I talked to the rest of them a bit and offered my thanks, and then, doing their best to wipe the powdered sugar off of their faces, they were off to their next adventure – and me back to mine.

I stepped back up onto my box with a huge smile – then just a few seconds later, stepped back down and started to pack up.

It was getting slow and late, and besides – it couldn’t get any better than that.

I smiled for hours afterwards, and it’s a smile that I will carry inside for a long, long time. As the daily fools come by with their lack of imagination, with their ridiculous words and comments, I will think of them, those wonderful little girls, and I just may occasionally look down at one of these people…
and subtly smile.

10.3.16
In recalling this story, this experience – I am smiling now, and seriously considering getting back up on my box. It would be a challenge due to my health, and a nurse once told me I might die from a blood clot standing so still – but hell – I could think of worse ways to go.

If you by some strange chance are one of the girls (women, now) reading this, please contact me – reply here – and know that the beauty of what you did has lasted far more than just a year.