the gift

Every year, on my birthday, I check to make sure it’s still there.

Every year, it is, and my heart is both torn and comforted.
It was the first thing I ever knew, and over the years has become a part of me. I think that without it, I would be lost.

Every year, for my birthday, I take it, wrap it up in pretty paper, and give it back to her, but I could do that a thousand times and it would still be here inside of me. It makes me who I am… but I do wonder what it would be like if it were gone.

Inside is the very first thing I was ever given, and something I carry with me even today. Even more today.

I didn’t have any words to voice what I felt, couldn’t make sense of it as the heartbeat and smell and warmth that let me feel that I would be safe was ripped away and I was torn out of the arms that for fifteen minutes kept the cold of the world away forever.

I would take it out, put it in a small box, wrap it up in pretty paper and hand it to her. Inside is something bigger than she is or can ever be, but something that over years and years made me stronger than I ever could have otherwise been. It takes a lot to hold the pieces together for so long.

She would open it up every year on my birthday.
Inside would be the baby’s pain.

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Weaving the Warrior

I’ve been away from the words for a while, but my mind has been far from idle. Now, it’s time again to start writing. It’s the only place I find solace, comfort, answers, as if I was sitting outside on an old wooden porch talking with an old man or woman who offered their wisdom, who made me think. It’s the old black man sitting in his rocking chair that I created as a child – someone to go to in my mind all the times I had no one else…

I’ve been thinking about what I want, what I have *always* wanted, and realizing now that, for the first time in a life that has been spent looking for something secure and solid yet at the same time being afraid of anything that was – I now have that. At least, I have the possibility and option to make what I want in this life finally happen – a creative business that knows no end to growth, that can make people feel better about themselves and empowers them, and through my past experiences, I have something unique to offer that no one else can – the strength I found inside of me from fighting for my dreams to fighting for my life – and that strength goes into every piece of jewelry I design. Through my business and the direction I see it going, I want to empower women. I’ve seen far too often women trying to make themselves as small and unnoticeable as possible, walking as quickly as they can with their arms wrapped around their chest and head hanging down, doing as much as they can to get into a fetal position while still moving forward.

I want them to remember the strength they have inside of them, to understand how powerful they truly are. I want them to celebrate their beauty, and hold their heads high.
I want people to be afraid of the women I dress.

I’ve taken a long look at my life, what it has been and what it could be, and a decision has been made.

I know where I’m going, and I’m going to call upon the same will, determination, and courage that I found when I was fighting like hell for my life in the hospice to make this into what I know it could be. What it WILL be.

It’s time to make my dreams into reality again.

 

wings

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

you looked, noticed how my wings glistened with light

and reached to take hold of my hand.

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

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

You reached down, down far – and almost fell

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

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

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

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.

Still kickin’

Funny how you can be just innocently reading something, your mind behaving for the most part & not going down that road of what you really should kind-of be doing because it needs to get done but you’ve rationalized it really well since it’s still really early and there are SO many more hours in the day to work on what should be done, and then you read something that makes you think about something else, and that something else makes you think about something else entirely.
I was just reading Jenny Lawson’s book “Furiously Happy” (which if you haven’t read yet, you should look into why you enjoy depriving yourself of certain amazingly wonderful things) and she mentioned a list of life goals.

I thought about making my own, just for kicks, and then I did that thing where I took the thought further, and wondered if I ever had. I mean, I’ve make enough month-goals, and week & day goals (which are usually simply known as to-do lists and are pretty damn boring compared to a LIFE goal – I mean, think about it. Day-goal: – “send emails to people”. Life-goal: “Jump out of a plane above an active volcano.” (Not that I ever really want to jump into an active volcano, that was an example – but I DO want to go skydiving. AND learn how to fly a plane…”

Then I began wondering WHY I had never made any lifegoal lists, because it almost sounds like fun.

And then I remembered that 30 years ago I was working at Tower Video in Berkeley, and got a call from some Doctor who could have said “If you have written a list of life goals, it might be easier on you if you just tear that thing up right now.” But instead he said “We’ve gotten your test results back, and they came back positive for HIV antibodies.”

This was back in the years when everyone was still trying to figure out what it was – also known as “The years when everybody was dying”, at least in the less formal circles. I didn’t know much about it then, and chose to completely suppress and internalize what I just heard, and live until I died. The way I figured, I had 1 -2 years at most, and wasn’t going to waste time with dwelling on it. I mean hell, I was barely 19 years old. I had better things to do with the little time I had left.

I recently looked up some statistics, and found that 98% of people infected with HIV died within 18 months.

That’s a LOT.

Somehow however, I wasn’t one of them, and I still can’t really figure it out. I’m pretty sure that I’m not meant to – that it’s just something I carry with me forever to inspire me to do more huge things and say to myself “Maybe THIS is why I lived?” Hell – I’ll never know…

 

But I do know that for around ten years after I got that news, every few days I wondered when I would finally get sick and die. I’ll tell you one thing – it really fucks with any long-term plans. “Hey! Maybe I’ll learn how to… no, I’ll probably die before it’s done and that time will be wasted.” “Okay, by the time I hit 30 I want to have accomplished…. HA! Who am I trying to fool? I’ll be dead!

It’s really difficult to imagine your future, to prepare for it, to hang onto the dreams of who you want to be when you are absolutely certain that you’ll be nothing but a vague memory I people’s minds – if even that.

But for some strange reason that I’ll never be able to figure out (unless, of course, I do something & die immediately afterwards, saying with my last breath “OH. THAT’S why I lived!”)…

I’m still here. ALIVE – and even though there are days when I just want to hide under the covers in bed all day, and sometimes do – every second of this life counts.

Do something good.

Through the Fear

There are times as the moment gets closer where the courage to go on vanishes.
I try to find it – on the pages of books I’ve marked, in things I’ve written before, in memories of who I was and what I had inside when I was laying in bed dying.

Sometimes I find it. Sometimes not.

Yet still I go on, even though I know full well what’s at stake. What the cost will be if I fail.
I go on because I can’t live like this anymore, with the only thing keeping me alive being the struggle to stay alive. The magick and enthusiasm I once had for that is long gone, and has now become little more than a chore wrapped in futile redundancy. If trying to stay alive is the only reason to live, where do I find the inspiration to go on?

I know what the answer is, and that’s why I’m terrified. The book, my book, is what I need to break me out of this prison. What I was meant to do, perhaps even why, against the most insane odds, I was kept alive.

I can help people. Inspire them, entertain them, make them laugh – maybe even cry. I might even be able to change their life, and in doing so, change mine, back to a life filled with purpose, filled with value. Filling my heart again.

And that is why I’m afraid. There’s always the chance that my Kickstarter campaign won’t reach its goal, and if it doesn’t – nothing happens. I hang my head & try to go on, not having what is needed to get the book done or published, instead going back to my main job being begging for money for the herbs I need… but I don’t think even the best of herbs will help without the enthusiasm to keep living.

I know I shouldn’t be writing this. I need to be cheerful, upbeat, inviting – not depressing – but this is me, and many years ago I promised that I wouldn’t sugar-coat anything I write, I won’t bend to try accommodate the increasingly fragile, absurdly easily offended people whose “individual” thoughts are only what everyone else is saying on Facebook.

Fuck that.

This is going to happen. I will succeed. I’ve never given up on a dream before…

and I’m not going to start now.

I will find the courage, or if I don’t – I’ll keep going without it. Life is far too short & valuable to forsake the person I am supposed to be – the person I lost in the 6 year fight to stay alive.

I’m tired of fighting. It’s time to instead let this happen, and again know that whatever happens is exactly what should happen.

It’s time to trust the Universe again.

We MUST keep moving forward.

Too Far to Fail Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just need to get it out to the world.

I’ve come too far to fail.

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

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

LET’S CHANGE THE WORLD!

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LOVE YOU.