digging my way out

I try to step away from the constant gnawing distraction, the thoughts that tell me what I should be doing instead of being here, now, writing – but they are insistent, demanding. 

“You need to be working. You’ve saturated the circle of friends, they’ve bought what they wanted, and if you don’t figure out how to let the world know it will all end. You’re broke, hungry, borrowing money from friends just to survive. Your business is falling apart, failing. The fight is going out of you. YOU are failing…”

But I need to be here. This is my medicine, my solace. This is where I come to make sense of the things I need to – to make sense of me. Somewhere long the line I’ve lost who I was and I need to find that person again – that person who shined…

But that’s not correct, is it? I haven’t lost that person anymore than when you bury a body in the ground you’ve lost the body. I’m still here, buried alive, and I need to dig myself out. 

I saw someone I’ve known for a while at a party this last Sunday. I felt a lightness, a peace to her that hadn’t been there before, and I commented on it. Her father had died the month before, but he had been sick, hanging on, a shell of who he had been for the six years prior. When he passed on, she was released from his pain as well. For the first time since I’ve known her, I saw her.

I saw the lesson for me in that. There is something that I am letting corrupt who I am, and I need to find it. Bring it out, name it, and let this weight go. Shake off the dirt.

The other day I happened upon things people had said about me in the past – testimonials I had asked for to liven up a resume or project, and some things written simply because they had a desire to express their love to me. In reading them, I cried for the person I had forgotten – and vowed to bring him back:

“I keep a little picture of you I stole from the interwebs in a frame, and recently she asked about it. 
I said, “this is the man who taught me how important it is to write, and use beautiful words, even for ugly things. He is one of the most amazing, most special people in the world, so that’s why I gave you his name.”
“kSea walks the walk, talks the talk, and is more amazing in ten
seconds than most people are in a lifetime.”
“kSea is what happens when you decide to live your dreams. His unstoppable passion to live is breathtaking.”

For years I’ve been looking at the shape of my life from before I went into hospice. Even before I created the magazine. (culturefluxmagazine.com) I remember the adventure, living in a van & on couches yet still, nearly every day, going to perform on The Wharf. I remember working with The Dresden Dolls & being a mentor & friend to so many beautiful young artists & performers who were just starting out; living on the road, going wherever I was needed then moving on – and I remember how pure my happiness was, how much joy I always felt.

I’ve made the mistake of thinking that my happiness depended on getting back on the road, that it was the mirage outside of me that created the pureness and the shine inside. We all seem to fool ourselves of that – that we need something besides ourselves, whether it be a great job, a house with a fenced yard, a fancy car – or in my case, the adventure of not knowing what would happen, where I would be from day to day. I longed to somehow recreate those times. Then I would be happy again, then I would be me again…

But happiness does not exist in the illusions outside of us – or at least, it’s not found there. The joy we feel or have felt only can come from inside, and if we depend on the world outside of us for it we are sure to forever be disappointed. All over the world there are people who exist on nearly nothing but the barest of essentials, and the honesty in their smiles, the depth of their joy, is something that could never come from possessions or circumstance.

It is now time to look deep into the mirror, scrape the mud mask off of my face, and see the truth – the truth in me. Turn up the lights, look down at the person on the operating table and see that it is myself – and that writing is my scalpel, my medicine, and my bandages.

I’ve had a taste of how beautiful life can be. That is what kept me alive in hospice, and that is what I will again use to heal my soul.

I’ve had a taste, and I want more.

(And now back to work. 😉 ) By the way, if anyone is looking for some beautiful & unique jewelry, come on by my web-store – and please, spread the word! http://chainstore.kseaflux.com

 

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Just sit. Be quiet. Think.

Though I don’t do it as much as I used to or would like to now, it is still one of the things I relish most in life – having the time to do just that – or making the time.
But admittedly, as much as I love it, it’s not something that comes easily to me, and never has. My mind just simply doesn’t work like that. My thoughts don’t organize themselves into something that I can easily follow or make sense of, and my head seems to enjoy dancing around from one thought to the next, as if they were in that lottery-ball machine, bouncing around & randomly shooting up the tube into my awareness.

Sometimes I can let them go – just a passing thought of little consequence, or something that I can figure out or decide upon right then and there, gathering a bit of logic & other things I may have learned along the way – but then there are others, like the one I only just had – and the only way to play it out in my head so that it makes sense – is to write. It’s the way it’s always been for me.

Lately I’ve had a number of people comment on how much better I’ve been looking – how much healthier. Enough people to make me wonder why, and try to figure out if anything has changed, or maybe they just haven’t seen me in a while. Probably a mixture of both, but answering it so easily with absence – well, that’s not going anywhere. That won’t help anything or get me thinking about a path of possible growth, something that has happened that I can continue… But if anything has changed? Now that could be interesting – so that’s what I went with, as well as I could inside of my head. And I found an answer.

I’m creating again. I have a purpose again. I’m doing something I love, and best of all – making people happy.

And, in return, my health has improved, feel happier, and with my chainmaille jewelry business, there seems to be, as long as I don’t let myself procrastinate it all away or find a place where I’m “okay” but not where I want to be and call it good enough – there is almost unlimited growth potential. I’ve even figured out a way to move beyond the terror of not doing every little thing myself.

I’ve found, however, that it’s fragile. I have such a fucking frustrating propensity to procrastinate, to put things off with some of the best excuses imaginable, that what I need to do doesn’t get done – and I’m only happy when it does.

I need to remember that. I’m only happy when things are moving forward, when I’m growing, when I’m stepping out of comfort into something I’m terrified of doing –  because that’s the only place I find passion. Only then do my eyes shine the way they used to, and only then… only then, I believe, does my mind use the power it has to heal my body, because it has a reason to.

Why else would it have been that I was mostly fine – able to walk the 3/4 mile to the cafe from my motorhome to work on my magazine every day for months – and then within the first week of being in the hospice with nothing to do, my body decides to completely shut down?

There’s something in that – and now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to get my ass in gear and get to work. I have a business that I love to make grow, and a life to continue to live.

Moving Forward

Every morning I would wake up excited, the doors to infinite possibilities wide open & inviting me in. Decisions were sometimes made by careful deduction, but more often than not with little more than whim, the flip of a coin, direction of the wind, or the quiet, passionate desperation that endlessly seethes inside of me – the eternal need for the unknown, for adventure. To continually test myself with whatever blessing or adversity the Universe could conjure up to throw at me, and grow. And learn.

Plans to move to Boston fell through so I found myself in Austin volunteering for Katrina refugees in an artist’s forest. A new friend had never been to Burning Man so I promised her a ride from New Orleans, only being able to find a van to buy less than 10 days before we had scheduled to leave. I couldn’t find the magazine I wanted to read so I decided to create it, not having the first idea how I was going to, or even how to build a website – and four months after it launched was producing shows for the first time & winning awards.

Nothing could stand in my way. The world opened to whatever I sought or desired, and if it didn’t exist I created it. It felt like nothing could stop me, like this life I had shaped and formed and fashioned would keep storming ahead. I made my dreams so real, so beautiful, that they virtually fulfilled themselves…

…and then there was nothing. I felt like I was lying in the middle of a freeway, unable to move as life rushed by and all I could do was lay there, static in a world of action, decaying, decomposing, trying not to die.

And time passed. What was supposed to be a three month vacation turned into eighteen months of hell. People visited, some, I’m sure, expecting it to be the last time they saw me alive. I was good at reassuring them, I think, letting them believe I was fine, strong, getting better so that they would be more comfortable. I don’t think I ever expressed how terrified & unsure I was most of the time. I wouldn’t even let myself believe that. I couldn’t. Instead I focused on healing & what I would do when I walked out the door. When I could, I read feverishly. Studied quantum science, I taught myself to use my mind to heal my body.

It was easy to get to know the people in the hospice well, as it was only 14 rooms, 14 people at any time. You found out why they were there, created a familiar bond with them. Of the 15 who died in that time, I watched four with the exact same diseases and symptoms as I had give up and die – three of them younger with less severe symptoms. I’ll never know why. Was it the constant pain, or thinking there was nothing to live for? Had they forgotten their dreams?

I don’t know. I would just wake up and their room was empty, sterile, as if they had never been there.
I couldn’t let their deaths affect me. I couldn’t give in to the pain or the constant terror or the stench of my own flesh rotting. Up until the moment I walked into the hospice – those years had been the happiest of my adult life. I wanted them back.
I had to keep fighting.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I walked out of the hospice just a little over six years ago.
All that time I have carried what happened, what I went through, on my shoulders & in my heart – and deep inside of it, I have also carried my sickness. Using it as a crutch, the only thing special about my present is my past – that I’m simply here. Alive, but not living. My life no longer moving forward the way it had been before it all went to shit, and I was left with nothing to hold onto but what I “had” done, instead of what I am doing.

I learned a lot about mind/body healing while in the hospice. I have absolutely no doubt that, as impossible as it was sometimes, if I hadn’t *known* I would live, I would have ended up just like those I watched while there – another sterile, empty room, my body carted out on a gurney behind the curtain of night.

But I still had work to do. Until I let go of that part of my past, I would always consider myself “sick”, and therefore never be able to be *truly* healthy, perfectly healthy – but it had turned into my identity. “The guy who didn’t die” was all I felt I was anymore.

At least until recently.

It feels, now, like I have a future, something to look forward to, and something that I’ve been looking *for* since the moment I walked out. Though it’s not close to enough to satisfy me fully – I still need a vehicle to get the fuck out on the road & just *drive* for days on end and find myself nowhere I’ve been before, I am creating again – I am frequently challenged, always learning, and I love designing & constructing my jewelry. And I have something to look *forward* to. I can let go of who I *was*.

The warrior awakens. There are new battles to win.

And you better fucking believe I will.

 

 

The Fun Begins…soon (Kicking, day 0)

No ceremony, no ritual. Little more than a momentary pause as I looked at the small white pills in my hand this morning, but in that pause I thought of the nine years gone to the past, and the days or weeks of torture & agony immediately coming as I took my last dose of morphine. Ever.

I took the two half-full bottles out of my nightstand drawer, grabbed the near-full “emergency” pill container that I have kept for three years and moved them across the room to be placed somewhere clever later. Out of sight, yes – but I think out of mind isn’t very likely, at least for a few weeks or more.

If I could figure out the technique that always seems to work when I “organize” things so that they’re easier to find, only to end up lost for months when I actually *do* look for them, then that would be perfect – but I don’t think that will work. If I actually *want* to lose something or forget where it is, it seems inevitable that I’ll find it, even in the least likely of places.

I should figure out that backwards science & write a book about how to use & control it. I’d make millions.

It’s a strange feeling, kicking morphine after so long, so many years of depending on it. So many years of letting it control me.
I was half-expecting a huge mental fanfare – streamers popping out of my head, flame effects shooting out of my ears and little tiny balloons dropping from my nose, but alas, nothing of the sort. It was almost as exciting as putting my pants on.
Okay – as exciting as putting a freshly washed pair of pants on that have yet to acquire any dog hair on them, but still, not much more than that.

The exciting part – well, that will most certainly begin tomorrow, most likely as I race to the bathroom desperately trying not to crap myself in the 20 feet from my bed, or stopping in the middle of eating something for the same reason. It never ceases to amaze me how food can go through an entire body’s system almost as fast as dropping it – as if during withdrawals everything moves around and there is just one direct line from the mouth to the ass.

I think there should be an “Opiate Withdrawal Olympics”, with challenges such as ‘The 10 Meter Toilet Dash’, ‘The Cold Sweat Pool’ (judged by the amount of sweat the body produces in one night of attempted sleep), and ‘The Snot Sprint’, won by producing the most water-like mucus out of the incessantly running nose in an hour. Of course there could be many others – the most sleepless nights, muscle spasm gymnastics, distance or quantity vomiting, most creative screams of agony… it could be fun! Well… at least for the spectators.

And now, off to do some final preparations – give Ruby a *really* good walk, enjoy some of the last sunshine I might be seeing for a few days, clear a direct path from bed to bathroom, send letters to my Mother & Father thanking them for their birthday cards (finally) – whatever else I can think of.

I’ve decided to document the fun with pictures. Here’s one I have titled “Before the Descent” aka “Keep the fog outside of my head” aka “oh, shit.”

20160921_154228

See you all in hell. Be grateful you’re just looking through the window.

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.

20160915_155604

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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A little Everything

Another birthday quietly comes & goes with the slight disbelief & perhaps even small discontent that I made it another year.

I wake up late this morning, make my coffee, do the morning stretches to try to regain a scrap of the flexibility that, along with my strength, was eaten away during the 18 months that I spent in a hospital bed, and after I adjust the pillows climb back into bed, set the laptop on my lap & start to scratch words. I’ve found the bed is best – at least for the swelling in my legs. Keeps it down.

A conversation yesterday with a wonderful old friend & former lover about everything under our suns, and ending with tentative plans for a cross country trip in Spring – renting an RV and taking a few weeks to cross the country to her home in upstate New York. Likely plans. Almost definite plans.
I need to do something. Something that *means* something. The Kickstarter for my book crushed me as it fell to nothing but rubble of hopes, dreams & the plans I had which would have changed everything in my life, given me a purpose, a value.

I wonder why my life, my happiness depends so incredibly much on doing something, creating something, helping someone – I know that there are many who are content to live their lives in a mundane existence, and that’s all they seem to need. They seem to be happy – but that’s not me.  That’s not me.

I need to taste everything, experience the deepest pain and joy as I can, and truly feel PASSION, feel alive in this world, feel like I’m more than just another inconsequential pawn.
I need to breathe the fervent, blood red breath of life deep inside me, feel it fill my lungs, my heart, my soul, and match it with my own.
I need to swim to the deepest dark depths of the sea and feel at home there with creatures that understand that all I want to do is learn. Where are my fucking gills?

Where have I gone? Where is the music that I once danced to, the fevered rhythm of life? Have I fallen prey to my own sickness? Have I given up?

I can’t. I want to. I can’t. I’m tired. I can’t. I can’t.

Sometimes I think some of us live only to beat the odds. To be able to say “This is what I know.” And, just maybe, help someone else. Help them open their eyes, to see a little bit more beauty, to believe a little bit more in their dreams. To see how perfect we can at least make the world around us – or at the very least make it better.

I am not more courageous, not any more special than anyone else. I live in the same world.

I’ve just seen more of it than most – and because of that, in spite of that – I’m willing to keep fighting to make it a little bit better.

A life for a life

 

I look at this page & it stares back at me, a subtle, defiant edge to the font that would likely go without notice if I wasn’t looking for it – but oh, it’s there.

WriteGunPic

Some reading this may think that it’s my imagination, that I’m creating it in my mind, that the certain lean, the extra hint of teasing, judging serif in the font is something I’m making up so I can blame something other than myself for the distracted words that my fingers put on this page, but I know different, and besides, what you may think of my sanity has no consequence.
On with it.

I part the dense fog that has surrounded my mind ever since I began working on my Kickstarter campaign, the words listening for the passage that will allow them to avoid the sharp rocks in these treacherous waters & lead them safely to this page. From the tattered pages of past writings I tear away the tangents I had followed when the Sirens of Kickstarter took away my will & made the words whine and shove those in my ears, muting the songs of the campaign. I prepare my mind to find itself again, to write what’s been pushed back – but never forgotten. The thoughts still storm, and it’s time to dance in the rain again.

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I will succeed. I will triumph. I’ll do a happy dance!

As profoundly important as the success of this campaign is to me & my life, as much as I know it can and will change the lives of others, I need to remember that somewhere not far behind the ever-present thoughts of dong all I can to make my campaign succeed, there is a soul, forgotten & forlorn, who still has things other than the thoughts necessitated and consumed by Kickstarter to say.

And that being said, there is only a little more than a week left of my campaign – and this book needs to be finished, published & given to the world!

Please – pledge, SHARE, and understand the profound importance that this dream holds for me – I have never done anything that has meant more, including saving my life.
The goal of writing & publishing this book is what kept  me alive – what gave me something to fight for.

NGG THUMBNAIL8.8

This book kept me alive – and now, it’s time to let my book live!

Click the link below, contribute & share – please – and thank you!

http://bit.ly/NGGKickass