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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Elephants Skating On My Brain

Tuesday morning, 9:30, and when any other self-respecting person who doesn’t have a horridly typical 9-5 job would be sleeping, I’m awake and have been for roughly an hour. These days it’s something of a rare occurrence as I’m commonly up until at least 4am working on maille, but I’m one of those odd people who actually do like mornings so I’m able to forego the embarrassment I should, by unwritten law, be feeling as one of the happy few who can wake up any goddamned time they want so there. We hold onto this dearly, sacrificing security, health insurance, and likely much more money to be able to do whatever we want, when we want – if we can afford to, that is.

My wake-up routine is simple. I began it only a couple of months ago, feeling a need for at least something that was routine in my life, and it consists of laying in bed for roughly 30 minutes from the first moment of consciousness, eyes closed and just breathing, thinking about consciousness, quantum mechanics & the question of reality, considering magick, spirituality & science, a subtle smile on my face as I think about the day ahead what I want to create in it & how fortunate I am just simply to have it. If it’s one of the frequent mornings when Ruby is laying next to me instead of on the couch, I gently rub the closest part of her body to my left hand (her side of the bed) which, is usually, the lower half of her body. I still haven’t figured out if she plans the perfect position of her butt to my hand or if it’s just luck, but knowing her, I’m guessing the former.

After the short time in bed, I open my eyes, slog directly to the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee. Usually, since I make a full pot at a time, I just put it in a cup and microwave it, but every three days I’m able to make a new pot, programming it to begin brewing about an hour before I think I’ll wake up. This is one of those mornings – a special treat of fresh coffee. It’s the small things, y’know?

With my coffee and a few small treats for Rube (I figure it’s nice for her to help get the morning-mouth washed away) I head back to my bed, adjust the pillows into an upright position, and spend a couple hours reading, writing, & meditating – usually in that order, but not strictly by any means. It’s a quiet & peaceful time for me, and since I began, I find it’s necessary. Phone face down, on silent & yet untouched, as yet uncorroded by the acid, ignorance & simple “who gives a fuck?” in today’s world – this is sacred & essential time.

On this morning however, my upstairs neighbor, a guy around my age named Rick who seems to have quite a few little street-urchin boys who can’t seem to figure out that the top floor is probably the top button on the elevator, or even fucking read the number on the door (and every door they pass before mine that begins with a 3 instead of a 4 before they knock on mine) has decided that 9:30am is somehow the perfect time to teach elephants how to rollerskate to the industrial music of one of those vacuum cleaners that incorporate a jackhammer to help loosen the dust in the carpet and whatever teeth you formerly had firmly planted in your mouth.

My instant & automatic passive-aggressive response is to get out of bed & pretend that the floor is lava so I need to use the bar stool I have to hop around the room on as loudly as possible, but then I realize that wouldn’t work as planned, since he lives *above* me. Still, every single time I go straight to that. It’s kind of embarrassing, and I roll my eyes at myself a lot.

To remedy his cleaning habits, I’ve briefly considered the ceiling-broomstick technique, but I don’t want to be “that” guy, just subtly make him realize that every impact he makes on the floor is impacting my sanity. I’ve considered borrowing a hammer-drill and making a few hundred random holes, hoping he thinks I’m just building a hanging trampoline so I can practice my prone-bouncing performance or setting up a mister over my entire room for that refreshing tropical rain forest feeling. I’ve thought of painting an archery target above my head for when I just want to relax in bed & shoot arrows, or strapping some sub-base speakers to the ceiling like the ones that make the cars that drive by sound like they’re about to vibrate themselves into a pile of parts at any second, but nothing really seems to be truly feasible for the level of non-energy I want to put into it.

I guess when I think about it, it’s really not that horrible. Sure, it’s not the cute little birds hopping on the roof of my motor home I used to wake up to, but it’s not screaming tweakers either. He doesn’t do it every day, or even every week for that matter, and almost never at this hour. I guess I can live with it for now… but if you happen to see me walking down the street with an odd twitch or frequent spasm, you’ll know why.

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?

Do you know what it means…

As I weave the rings together, I half-watch various TV series that I remember enjoying, and this time, it’s Treme – a show based in New Orleans, centered around the music of the city – and the pain & frustration that Katrina left in her aftermath.
The first show of the series begins three months after The Storm – one month before I moved there, and the first time I ever stepped foot on the magick of its soil.
I find tears coming to my eyes frequently, as I remember the amazing people, the fun & friends I met that remain in my heart to this day, and the spirit of the city.
I had never experienced a city stronger, with more resolve, nor people with more love for their home.
Until I moved there, I had never truly understood what that word meant – only that I had never had one. I chose to call it mine shortly after I moved there, and in a strange and not so subtle way, I could *feel* that it accepted me into its arms. It loved me back.

I performed on the street as a living statue while living there, and my most common pitch – one of the best ones in the Quarter – was on Decatur Street in Jackson Square Park, directly across from Cafe’ du Monde.
I have many funny, sad, & beautiful stories from those months, one being a NOPD officer who had grown kind-of friendly with me in passing, and one day, as a group of about 15 tourists stood around me gawking & ignoring my tip box, I hear, seemingly over a PA system: “Put. Some Money. In The Box!” – and turned just enough to see him sitting in his car, smiling at me. I almost laughed at how quickly they reached deep into their wallets & pocketbooks, but couldn’t break character.
Another day there was the child being dragged along by his mother like a piece of old luggage, on her way to the next tourist shopping destination. She had him by the wrist, his arm stretched as far as it would go as he tried to look around at the people, the horses & carriages, and all the things that a young boy should be able to take the time to explore, to wonder about & ask endless questions to an annoyed parent.
As they were walking by me, the mother didn’t look twice in her one-person shopping stampede – she had the blinders of a well-oiled consumer, but the *boy*… the boy, he noticed that maybe something just wasn’t entirely right with that statue, with it’s white skirt gently luffing in the breeze, scuffed shoes… there was something that caught his eye, and as he looked up at my face, I caught his with mine – and I winked at him. It was something small – I just wanted him to know that *I* saw him. That he had a friend.

His jaw dropped and eyes popped open to near the point of being nothing but a caricature of a lazily carved pumpkin, and as he realized his feet needed to keep moving due to the ignorant machine of the relentless force dragging him along, he jogged to catch up & ran a little ahead so she might see him, remember he was there and listen as he said with the hope of her hearing him – “Mom – there’s someone *IN* there!”

A couple people in the series are street musicians, and as the camera switched to the other person, I saw that they were standing exactly where I did, and according to the show, exactly where I would be just a little over a month later.

This time, my eyes weren’t deep enough to keep the tears from falling.

Gods, I miss New Orleans.

NOLA.Statue

or die trying

I had prepared myself. Rehearsed the things I would say over & over in my mind, thought of new ones, carefully planning the appropriate metaphors and similes so that even as someone who didn’t have aliens slowly digging their way out of the front of his body as they gestated and came to full explosive maturity, my doctor would be able to clearly understand what it’s like.

If I started getting a bit too happy during the hours leading up to our appointment, I would immediately think of one of the “Lost Dog” fliers I’ve seen posted recently on light posts around my neighborhood, the last one I saw about a week ago having a picture of a happy, smiling Golden Retriever on it.

I swear, I could step over human bodies littered in the street with the only thought being that I hoped that I didn’t get some of the blood or decomposed flesh stuck to my shoe, therefore having to scrape it off on the tattered clothes or face of the next corpse I came across – but show me a picture of a dog who was lost, its home and warmth and everything it knows suddenly gone, and I would sit there staring at it, fighting back tears and memorizing every detail just in the off chance I actually did see it wandering aimlessly around the neighborhood, matted fur, a hungry, confused and terrified look in its eyes as it occasionally stopped, lifted its nose to the air and sniffed, hoping for the faintest scent of home or companion.

I had pictured going into a vicious, swearing rant the second the door to my doctor’s office was closed and we were alone inside, ripping off my umbilical hernia belt, violently lifting my shirt and dropping my pants. “LOOK AT ME! Look at… THIS, this monstrosity that has taken over my life and destroyed my hope, this THING that makes me mentally destroy any chance of a human companion before I even say the first word to a woman I could see myself with, someone to care for and to care for me, someone to give myself to, someone that will again fight like hell to stay alive for because I couldn’t stand the thought of them being alone. THIS DEFORMITY that I do NOT have to live with, do not have to accept, like having my legs cut off or being born with half a face or worse, no sense of style. The surgeon says he’s concerned that I would die if I had the operation, but doesn’t he understand that by NOT performing the procedure just to fucking put my insides back INSIDE that he is condemning me to an existence where every morning I look at myself, every time I wish I could go swimming, every day that it’s warm and I can’t even just wear a fucking t-shirt without having to put on the hernia belt and another shirt to cover that I feel that I would rather be dead? What right does HE have to play god, this spineless, ignorant, self-centered human-shaped Jell-O mold?

Et-cetera, et cetera. Fire & brimstone. The 15 minute scourge of Ward 86 at SFGH. Sure, there may be a bit of hyperbole in all that was said, but it wouldn’t be forgotten. John (my doctor) would cower in the corner, eyes wide and terrified and amidst the indiscernible mutterings of prayer for his safety and futile attempts to calm my tirade, swearing to me that he would relay every word I said to the surgeon, Dr. Mackersie, the second he felt safe enough to come out of the corner and sit at his computer to send an email.

Yeah, it didn’t really happen like that. At all.

The moment the door was shut to his office, he turned to me and with a sorrowful, incredibly caring look on his face said “I read the email you sent to me (see previous post), but… I didn’t know how to reply.”

Wait. What was I thinking? This is my friend, this is the guy who knows me, the guy who cares for me. I quickly fired the original mental director for this performance and brought out a new one. This needed to be a quiet scene, one where I played the much more realistic role of someone entirely drained of the passion for life, someone who, after so many years of holding on desperately to that last thin thread of hope, had finally let it go after John’s email to me saying that the surgeon felt the procedure would be too dangerous to perform.

Though the fact that I wasn’t really playing a role made it much easier, I still should win a goddamn Oscar for it. Sure, I overstated here, embellished there, and inflated some things quite a bit, but when you’re a generally happy person called on to act despondent & dejected so that the emotion of what you actually do feel sometimes is pounded like a stake into the heart of the person you absolutely, unquestionably HAVE to relay it to, a little bit of dramatic license is necessary. After all, HE doesn’t have a scrotum sticking out of HIS belly – but I think I helped him understand what it was like.

And I’m nearly certain that I saw him fighting back a tear or two at times.

The person I showed him truly was me, in every way. In everything said, in everything felt, in every tear that I shed yesterday – but as an adoptee, the very first thing I learned in life as I was taken from my mother’s arms, 15 minutes after I was born, was how to shut down and build nearly impenetrable walls that kept the pain away, so even I don’t know that it’s there, and even less seldom feel it. As least not most of the time. I’ve spent a large part of the last nearly 20 years working on getting behind those walls in a manageable way. When I first began, I went too far to quickly and had I guess what was some kind of break-down, where I was sent home from work & spent the next three days in bed, in a fetal position, trembling, wrapped as tightly as I could get my blanket around me.

Yesterday, I was able to carefully make just the most infinitesimal crack in one of my walls, and bring out only what I needed at the time. I’m not sure if that’s progress on my issues or not, but hell, it worked for what I needed it to, and he had sent an email to the surgeon asking about something he said, and also mentioned looking into a different hospital for the procedure if my insurance covers it. “I don’t want you to have your hopes shattered again if the other hospital also says no.”
“John… they already are.”

He was standing above me, put his hand gently on my shoulder, and sighed in a knowing but somewhat helpless way. I stood up, thanked him for everything he has done, we hugged warmly, and I left with the impression that if he could perform the surgery himself, he just might – knowing that it could kill me, but also knowing that I felt that if I died because someone was at least trying, that would be infinitely better than living the entire remainder of my life with the hernias and pain unendingly growing, knowing that all it would take is one fucking person. One person with enough courage to let me have the chance to live the life I fought so hard to create, then fought again to keep.

All in all, I think the appointment went pretty well – though I would have liked to have the chance to perform that scene where I ripped off my clothes and said “LOOK AT ME! OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK! I’M A MONSTER! YOU’RE DOING THIS TO ME!”
But then I would have to hire a completely undetectable camera crew, and I just don’t know where to find one of those for under $20.

Raising hell to escape from it

Today is the day I show them what’s been hidden behind the curtains.
In a few hours I make my way out the door to the hospital, for the monthly-ish appointment with my Doctor of nearly eleven years. He’s seen and been there for me for everything I’ve gone through, always by my side, always caring, always treating me as more than just a patient. John seems to see me as I see him, as a friend, and though it’s unlikely he shares the same sentiment towards me, I hold him as one of my best. He knows more about me in some ways than anyone else ever will, and he’s seen me at my physical worst.

But he hasn’t seen what I’ve been hiding. For the most part, I’ve kept that from him – from everybody – and have always played the role of the cheerful patient, regardless of how I physically felt. But this reaches far beyond physical. Sure, the hernias I have are somewhat painful, but more of a discomfort than an actual pain for the most part as I feel my intestines slide back through the muscle wall and find their little pocket of flesh when I stand and let gravity have its unforgiving way, stretching it like a growing foetus.

For five years, since my umbilical hernia started stretching my belly and giving me an outie that looked like I swallowed a cucumber whole and now it was sitting in my stomach, one end pressing up against my spine and the other trying to force its way out of my navel, I’ve been trying to get the operation that tucked everything back inside. Call it vanity, call it whatever the fuck you want, but I hated it then, back when it was a junior deformity, and it’s only grown; grown to the point of completely fucking my quality of life.

And unless this surgery is done, it will be there for the rest of my life, continuing to grow and get more disgusting as the months progress – along with my new hernia, an “inguinal” hernia, which sits, growing rapidly, jut to the top right of my groin. It’s nearly as if I have three ball-sacks now – one coming out of my abdomen, one on top of my c&b, and the original. From the discomfort to the monstrously hideous appearance that prevents me from doing nearly anything involving core muscles to simply taking my shirt off in front of *anyone*, I’m ridiculously limited in the things I used to love doing. STILL love doing, but can’t or won’t.

I’ve been nice up until now. I’ve talked rationally, pleaded, begged – I’ve written emails not only to my doctor* but to the surgeon who won’t do the operation based on a few minutes of poking & prodding and through that deciding that it was too risky, and I’m fucking tired of being nice, of being understanding.

Today I go see my doctor, and today, I’m not hiding my anger, pain, anguish or sorrow. I’m going to be someone he’s never seen before, and though performing the surgery is not his decision, it just might give him the balls to relay the importance of it to the person who is.

I’m fucking done being the good patient. The understanding one. The rational one.
I don’t give a fuck anymore, and it’s time to raise some hell.

*
Dear John,
Thank you for your call on Monday.

I appreciate you putting in the order for the hernia support belt, but to be truly honest with you (as I’ve always tried to be) – if the only way I’ll get the surgery I need is to have my intestines twist, then that’s what I’m going to try to somehow make happen.
For over four years (since Kat & I stopped seeing each other, back when the hernia was about 1/5 what it is now) I have pushed any possible romantic involvement away, not daring to even innocently flirt, terrified of even the possibility of anyone seeing the hernia, even more than I was afraid of telling people I was HIV+.
I haven’t even kissed anyone in over three years.

I used to have the morphine to numb the oppressive loneliness that the hernia has created in my life, and now, I don’t even have that. Living a life without even the hope of finding someone to share it with is getting to be too much to bear. I try, but at times I feel incredibly weak.

I’ve turned down offers to go swimming with friends, to go for camping trips at rivers or lakes, and anywhere or anything where I might need to take my shirt & hernia truss off. Even I try not to look at it in the mirror.

Though I understand the concerns about the ascites, I am able to keep it at a bare minimum hardly even trying to. On the day my inguinal hernia ripped through the muscle, I can *almost* guarantee that it had nothing to do with ascites – when I first felt the sharp pain, I was just playing with Ruby a little too enthusiastically. Due to the umbilical hernia combined with the months upon months I was mostly confined to a hospital bed, my core muscles have weakened to the point where they don’t have the strength to keep things where they belong anymore. I live in this body every day & pay close attention to it, and strongly feel that the weakness of the muscles have an incredibly large part in it all. I know that I can keep any fluid buildup down to the barest minimum before & after surgery if I’m allowed it. It’s barely an issue even without taking the herbs or meds for it these days – and if I have the surgery I’ll do everything it takes to heal without any complications at all.
I just want to feel like I’m alive again…

John, I’m sure you’re aware that it’s more than the lack of romance that is causing the emotional pain. The life I worked so incredibly hard to create -performing, costumes, and simply the joy for life that people once said inspired them – that’s gone, and it’s almost entirely due to the hernia & it’s physical & psychological effect on me.

When I was in hospice & the hospital after that I have NO doubt that it was my will to live that kept me alive and instilled in me the drive to learn to walk again. The spirit I once had to remain alive is dwindling.

Though it seems like Dr. Makersie is kind & thoughtful, there is one thing that he doesn’t seem to understand. Though the “statistics” say there could be a 30% chance of complications with the surgery… as my will to live fades, the chance of me dying without the surgery increases every day.

A perfect amount of less time

I certainly didn’t expect for this to happen. It wasn’t planned, calculated or intentional in any way. I’m entirely a victim of circumstance, and it was so organic and clever in the way it took over my life that I didn’t even notice it happening. It took the days hours, divided them up loosely so that I still felt I had control over the profound inertia of my life & wouldn’t notice until it was too late, and without even bothering to check with me, all of the sudden there is something of a schedule that dictates my days. Goddamn, it was sneaky.

The odd thing is that in the past I tried, tried desperately to have some kind of structure in my days, but the more strict I tried to be with myself & my time, the more a different part of me rebelled. My subconscious mind teamed up with my instinctive and astonishing ability to procrastinate and all my meticulous planning and promises to myself that this time, dammit, I will DO it – was inevitably shot to hell within a few days.

But then the schedule happened to me. I’ll get to how in a minute.
I’m still able to wake up & fall asleep at any odd hour I want, but once awake the gears are set in motion, and I have little choice but to just go along for the ride.

All I needed to do was write. That’s all. For a few hours each day, I would write, and the rest of the time I was free to fill with all the apathy & indifference for life that I could fit in.
The problem was that since I had so much freedom with time, I figured that I could write whenever I wished – when waking up & still in bed, or at one of the cafés that I would write on my “to-do” pad the previous evening (which held such gems as “Walk Ruby”, “take shower”, “call or write… anyone”) or if I had food, I could write after a dinner of tater-tots or rice & beans. I could write anytime – so I never did. I didn’t write, I didn’t go anywhere, didn’t do anything, with the exception of reading.  I even tried to make it exciting by actually going all the way over to my little couch (calling it a “love seat” would be depressingly misleading) – but I couldn’t ever seem to make it the six feet it would take to get all the way over there.

Then one day, while shopping on Amazon for the medicinal herbs I would be able to buy in a few weeks when I got my disability check as well as other things like knives, books, a new belt for my umbilical hernia, books, and anything else I could think of to fantasize about, I looked on the side of the screen and saw that Amazon figured that I might like a bag of around 4000 shiny aluminum jump rings. Because that made perfect sense.

Curious as to why in this empty grey existence of mine their bots would think that, and though I had countless other much more important things to search for like wing tipped tuxedo shirts, extension cords and creepy doll heads, I clicked on the picture.

Hmm. Chain mail? Make chain mail? You’ve got to be kidding me. There is absolutely no way I would have the patience to sit there for hours, weaving ring by ring into something that looked like anything good, unless some poor idiot somewhere could be convinced that what I created with the three rings I had the patience to sit down, open, connect, and close again some sort of brilliant minimalist art. As blindly optimistic as I usually am, sometimes even I need to open my eyes and see the reality of something so unlikely. I mean, it takes all the willpower I have just to write for 15 minutes straight – who am I do have the nerve to think that I could sit for hours and hours to make just ONE piece of jewelry?

But then I saw the book that people apparently bought when they bought the rings. And the pretty pictures, right there on the cover. The pictures of things that the book would show me how to make and that I would make and people would like because of my innate and incomparable sense of style, and I would sell them and be flown around the world with my dog in private jets to create amazing things for only the coolest famous people – or at least the ones that aren’t dead yet, I figured. It’s fun to think about, and while I could definitely see the cool stuff, I couldn’t see me doing anything that involved sitting at a desk for so long. Perhaps the biggest fear was the knowledge of how many things I have begun & never followed through on. Those things continue to haunt me, and I was terrified of this being another one…

I got a little sick when I ordered the rings & the book with pretty pictures instead of a couple bottles of the herbs I need to keep me alive & healthy-ish, but looking back all these weeks to the beginning of when all this began in January, that was a small price to pay – and besides, the infection seems to nearly be gone.

So now I have a schedule – or more accurately, I was mugged by a schedule which sneaked up on me from behind, knocked me unconscious, and when I woke up, it had already made itself at home in my life.

I find it interesting that when I have absolutely nothing to do, I can’t even find the time to sweep up the dog hair in my apartment. It’s like there is too much time to do anything. I’ve never been able to figure that one out. Is it just me? Do I have some weird mental disorder concerning time? Is it like a buffet where there is so much amazing food that I can’t choose anything, or an enormous bookstore filled with so much that I wander the endless aisles for hours and walking out with nothing?

Now my entire world has changed. It’s as if after years I finally thought of the last line to the best poem I had written. It’s the torn-out chapter that brings the entire plot together, found in another inmate’s cell a week before I’m released. It’s the rug that really, like, ties the room together, man.

I get up, read for a bit, write nearly without fail for a few hours, while drinking coffee in bed. When I feel either like I’m at a stopping point or mid-afternoon is creeping up far too quickly, I get dressed, take The Beast out while I do errands, and have even been taking her to the park more frequently. I get home, putz around briefly and nearly every-other day run my Swiffer over the floor to gather the nearly unbelievable amounts of dog hair that it acquires. I stretch a bit, sit down at my work desk (which unfortunately never lived up to its name of a “writing” desk. It feels far too strict and demanding when I actually try to use it for the purpose I bought it, like it’s secretly judging me) – and get to work on chainmaille. After a few hours I have an insatiable urge to take a nap for an hour or so – but the nap is the slippery part. When I started, the nap would fall at a vaguely decent hour, usually 3-4 pm, and I’d wake after an hour or so refreshed and ready to get back to work – but as the days progressed with the fun & challenge of making more creative pieces, I ended up feeling better and as a result worked later into the night, I sometimes not being able to put the pliers down until 4 or 5am. There was a glitch brewing.

I still follow the agenda, it’s just that the actual time of day has no place in it, and as the rest of this silly world has the audacity to run on their time instead of mine – that makes the time I have for writing sometimes unbearably short, and now that I’m regularly doing it again, I need my fix. Seriously. It’s like a drug. If I don’t have time to write when I wake up (which after a late night could be 1pm), I find myself being irritable, miserable and easily pissed off the rest of the day. I imagine that the people driving in traffic who can’t help but lean on their damned car horns when there is absolutely nowhere the person in front of them can go must feel this way – I just don’t have anything to honk.

I haven’t tried it yet, but if it ever does happen where I find myself around someone I’m just being a plain bastard to for no reason, maybe the solution is pulling out my notebook & pen while I ask them to wait for a moment? Of course, what I write may be something like “I think this person is an ignorant, idiotic, pathetic little subhuman whose cartoid artery I would like to puncture repeatedly with this pen.” – but the irony is that after I wrote that (then quickly closed my notebook I shoved it back into my pocket before anyone could see it), the urge would likely be gone and I could stand there silently, looking them directly in the eyes with a diabolical smirk on my face until they felt uncomfortable enough to go away.
Or I guess I could write something like “Chill the fuck out, Flux. They’re probably really nice, and it’s you being the asshole because you didn’t get your writing fix, poor baby.” That just wouldn’t be as much fun though. Did I happen to mention that there’s a somewhat wicked streak in me?

In order to make this “schedule” work inside the time frame set by those “other” people, I have created a reset button – which is why this morning’s therapy is edging up to nearly 1,500 words. All I need to do is take a break from the post-nap chainmaille creation for an evening, and get to bed at an absurdly early hour – such as 7 or 8pm – then wake up at 3 or 4 am, microwave the coffee I make much more than enough of every few days so I don’t have to wait for it to brew, light some incense, crawl back into bed, and start the day – with plenty of day left to enjoy this new life where, for the first time in far, far too long, I feel like I’m beginning to live a life of doing things I love again. I’m writing, I’m creating, I’m making things that people really seem to like and are eager to buy, and instead of days full of emptiness and ennui, instead of feeling valueless and insignificant, I feel good. Hell, I’m even getting some real work done on my book – something that is solid and workable, instead of the 5 years of constructive procrastination that I’ve been using to pretend that I was doing something on it.

I really should offer classes on professional procrastination. I don’t think that anyone can compare to my level of self-deception when it comes to that.

So yeah. Because of some shiny rings and the remembered courage not to let my fear stop me again, to at least try, and if that didn’t work, fucking try harder, things are looking up in my life.
I might even be able to honestly say I’m happy – at least with this part of it… and considering how I’ve felt for the past few years, that feels really good to be able to say, and mean.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve made, because I know you’re unbearably excited to see some of it. Mind you, I’ve only been doing this for about seven weeks…