FUCK!

I’m at my wits end. This is going to be a short post and rant filled. I find myself returning to my need to swear because this situation is completely fucked up.

I haven’t seen my daughter since last September. If I had legal rights I would be inclined to fight but I have never found fighting to improve a situation. Technically my daughter is my step-daughter but since divorcing her mother there is no legal relationship. There is also no other father. It’s just me. I was there for two months before she was born and I was there when she was born and I am the one who has been there ever since. Even when I am not physically there, I am emotionally there. I probably could have adopted her but never did. Maybe this is because I am adopted and have my own issues regarding adoption but mostly it’s because I believe that the parent-child relationship is forged in love, not in law. I could be wrong but this is what I continue to believe.

So I found out in November that my daughter did not want to see me until she could do so with her mother and her therapist present. To be honest, I don’t know where this problem is coming from. My daughter and I have gone long stretches without talking but when we do, we get along great. Still, if these are the conditions, regardless of where they are coming from, I am willing to do whatever it takes. That is love. Love comes first.

An appointment was scheduled for December 19th, 2013. That appointment was canceled for reasons which I still don’t understand but it was rescheduled for yesterday. The rescheduled appointment didn’t take place either. I can’t help but wonder if it even existed in the first place. The explanation that I got from my daughter’s mother, less than an hour before the appointment, was that transportation fell through. She told me that she no longer has a car. She also told me that as a result of not having a car my daughter has not been to school all month. She is fifteen years old. That is a legal issue.

FUCK!

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That was one freaking year

It was one year ago today that I started this blog. I’ve recently gone back and started reading what I was writing a year ago. I just wanted to see what was on my mind back then and what has changed. The first thing I noticed was that I used to be a lot more angry. Either that or I just used to swear a lot more. Maybe I have become a better writer. Don’t get me wrong, I still love sailor speak and am known to throw an f-bomb around from time to time but it’s a bit of a lazy method for getting one’s point across. I’m glad that I don’t feel the need to do it so much anymore.

I suppose now would be a good time to make plans for the coming year, set some expectations or something, but that is not how I got here and it’s not how I’m going to continue. I just think that writing this blog is a good idea so I’m going to keep doing it.

I do want to thank everyone who has taken the time to check out my blog. I want to thank the people who have clicked the “like” button when they thought one of my posts didn’t suck. I also want to say that I do really appreciate the comments. Hopefully I can find a way to encourage more of that in the coming year. Mostly, I want to thank all the other bloggers out there who are sharing their thoughts and feeling with the world. It’s a pretty amazing community that we have and I look forward to becoming more involved as time goes on.

If you keep asking questions you’ll keep getting answers

My therapist always warns me about asking “why”. I remember the first time he did it and even back then I knew why asking why was a bad idea. Why questions tend to lead to more why questions and rarely result in helpful answers.  My therapist just wants me to be happy, to be content, and asking why is not the way to get there. I know that, but I still say…

So What!

I’m not seeking contentment. I”m not seeking happiness. I’m seeking the truth.  For that I would rather follow the advice of Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. She says is fond of saying, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.” These are words to live by. Yes, there is wisdom to be found even in children’s programming and Magic School Bus is one of my favorites. I watched it all the time with my kids when they were young and I’ve recently started watching it again with a three year old friend of mine.

He’s really into the episode about the Haunted House so I’ve watched it probably half a dozen times. In this episode, Carlos is trying to build a musical instrument.  Try as he might, his instrument still sounds loopy. He doesn’t know what he did wrong. He doesn’t know what he is going to do to fix it. The only advice Miss Frizzly has is, “Well, if you keep asking questions, Carlos, you’ll keep getting answers.”

I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately and I have been getting a lot of answers although most of them have not been that helpful. My biggest questions are, “Why is my best friend not talking to me?” and “Why is my daughter not talking to me?” These are difficult questions to answer when the person with the answer isn’t talking to me. Logic would suggest that I just give it up, let it go, get on with my life… but I don’t. I just keep asking more questions.

Why can’t I move on?

Why do I care?

Why do I believe what I believe?

Why do I like what I like?

Why do I do what I do?

Why can’t I stop asking questions?

This is the behaviour of someone who is searching. This is the behaviour of someone who is missing something. But what am I missing? I have everything I need, in fact I have more than I need so why do I still feel this hole in my soul?

Well, I think that I have finally found the answer… and no, it is not helpful but it is the truth.

It’s an answer for which I have been searching nearly forty-seven years. It’s an answer which has been there the whole time but one which I have never allowed myself to look at.  It’s an answer I haven’t been able to look at until now. It’s an answer I have probably been training my entire life to receive. It’s an answer which could not be found by asking. There is no way to find this answer. It had to come to me which is strange because it is not something that is out there. It is something that is in me. It is something so basic to who I am. It is what burns at the core of my being. It is something so primal that there is no language to explain it. It is not an answer that I could find by thinking. It is something that I needed to feel.

You see, I was put up for adoption at birth. That not really a big deal. It’s certainly no great revelation. I grew up knowing that I was adopted. I understand a lot of the implications of being adopted. Adopted people tend to have more problems than the general population and the reasons for this are pretty straight forward. There are always those questions about where we come from. There is an understanding that someone who is considering putting a child up for adoption is likely to have a stressful pregnancy. We know that stress can affect fetal development. Open adoption has worked to remedy some of these issues but there is still something more going on. There is still something that we don’t want to look at. We are still told that adoption is a beautiful wonderful thing. It takes a child who needs a home and places that child in a home that needs someone to love.

What could be more beautiful than that?

We could stop asking questions right now and just go along our merry way and if you want to be happy, I highly recommend doing just that. Stop reading right here because you don’t want to know what I am about to tell you.

What really happens to a child when that child is put up for adoption?

This is not a question which can be answered through observation. The adoption process is very personal. The child has no memory of the birth. Well… at least no explicit memory. But I was there. I did go through this experience and recently I became able to remember. But it’s not your typical memory. There are no details, there are no pictures, there are no words. It’s more like a psychic connection. This memory has been sitting inside of me all along without me being able to understand it. Somehow, through the course of everything that I have been through I am now able to decode it. I am now able to give it words.

This is what happened to me. This is how my life began and this is why I have spent my entire life searching. I remember life before I was born. I remember being in utero. That womb was my entire universe. My mother was the be all and end all of everything. Upon my birth my universe disappeared. Everything I ever knew, everything that made any sense, was gone. You might say that this experience is not unique. Every child goes through this at the point of birth and I would not refute that. We have all been through this trauma and it’s probably the greatest trauma we will ever experience until we die.  It is probably a good thing that we don’t remember it.

But my trauma was different. The trauma of birth for an adopted child is different. I never got to be held by my universe. I never got to connect with my world. I never got to experience all that my time in utero was preparing me for. I was born to a foreign world, surrounded by aliens.

Anyway, now I understand it and that is pretty fucking cool. Now I know the trauma that I have experienced and I can begin to heal… if I want to. I’m not sure I do. I now understand that I have this huge gaping wound but you know what? It has served me pretty well. Sure, it makes me more sensitive to pain but so what? At least it’s real… and it’s mine.

—–

I was given something else to think about yesterday. It was suggested that I could get more of what I want and cause a lot less trouble if I just kept my mouth shut. That is really good advice. I’m actually pretty good at keeping my mouth shut I would rather not. I would rather just share everything that is on my mind. I guess that is where this blog comes from. Still, along with my insistence on asking questions, speaking my mind has probably caused ninety-nine percent of my problems. I’m pretty sure that my best friend would still be talking to me if I had learned when to keep my mouth shut. Also, I might have to quit drinking if I want to practice keeping my mouth shut. Those two things don’t seem to go together very well.

When you lack focus, use a wide lens

I was talking with my friend Phil Solem the other day. He is one half of the band The Rembrandts; best known for the song, “I’ll Be There For You”, the theme song from the NBC sitcom, Friends. He asked me how things were going with my music. Most people know me as the bass player for All The Pretty Horses (if they even know that) so I’m always flattered when someone asks about my music. I’m also embarrassed because there is not a lot to say. I have a collection of songs that I’ve written going back thirty years. Most have never even been played live, even for friends, and none have been recorded for release. I told Phil, “I just wrote my first song in over a year but I still haven’t done anything with any of them. It takes time and focus. I guess I have the time, I just lack focus.” His response was, “Then use a wide lens.” Initially I was confused as to why he was talking photography when I was talking songwriting but after some time to ponder his words I’ve decided that it may be the best advice I’ve ever received. I’m still not sure exactly what he meant but the best advice is open to interpretation. I have a feeling I know where he is coming from though. I know a number of musicians who have “made it” in the music business and I know what it takes to sustain that kind of success. It takes complete focus and dedication. You wind up missing out on many of the other things that life has to offer. It’s easy to lose the big picture. From what I can tell, most people are happier after their life “under the microscope” is over. I have felt pretty unfocused lately but perhaps that is not a bad thing. Being productive requires focus but to gain perspective you need a wide lens. I have been going through somewhat of a wide lens period. As a result I’m still working on this post that I started a week ago. You may have noticed that I’m not posting as often these days. I actually have a number of thoughts knocking around in my head but they don’t actually produce anything up there. I still need focus for that. I began to feel like I had lost my way but maybe all I  lost was my focus. I used to have a family and that was my focus. I used to have a best friend and she was my focus. I used to have a job and that was my focus. I used to have a band that rehearsed regularly and it was my focus. Over that past year all of these things have gone through dramatic changes. In order to find my place in the world again I needed a wide lens. I am on a path of discovery and what I’m discovering is that this is my path. All of these other things that I do are merely tools I use to help me understand the path. I thought that music was my path. I thought that this blog was my path. I thought that my friends were my path. I thought that my kids were my path. I thought my job was my path. All of them are important and I don’t want to understate that in any way. I would be nowhere without them but my path is not what I do. It is who I am and I’m still trying to discover what that is.

Minneapolis, mn

I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In many ways, it’s a great city. But in winter the weather kind of sucks. I have a dream of not being here in the winter. I even have a plan for how to do that. But for now, I’m still here. For all I know, I might always be here. I’m starting to think that that would be okay too. It’s a hard life but I don’t have the expectation that life be easy. It’s the hard stuff that makes me feel most alive; to really appreciate being alive. I keep striving to make my life better, easier, and I think that is a good goal. But the fact still remains, life sucks… so what, at least it’s LIFE.

January thirteenth

I awoke to find an “Add New Post” window open on my computer screen. Only the title field was filled in. It said, “How alcohol saved my life”.

The night before I watched the movie, “Drinking Buddies“. Accept for the part where a drunk bicycle rider gets freaked out at the sight of blood, I found it to be one of the most accurate portrayals of drinking life that I’ve ever scene in a movie. I felt inspired me to write an honest account of the role alcohol has played in my life. I felt like I could finally do it without coming off like I was just trying to justify bad behavior.

But first I had something more important to attend to… my laundry. I’d kept my washing machine hobbling along for the past year or so but the time had come for it to retire. As a result I’d accumulated five loads of laundry so I loaded up my van and headed to Rainbow Laundromat in Uptown. They have free Wi-fi so I figured I could get some writing done at the same time. That never happened.  Washing five loads all at once doesn’t leave a lot of down time but an hour and a half later I had clean sheets, comforter and a fresh new wardrobe. I still felt like I had accomplished something.

I stopped by the liquor store determined to spend the evening writing but by the time I got home my brain had developed other plans. I didn’t want to spend another night at home drinking; I wanted to get out in the world and be with my people. I hadn’t been on my bike since November and this was going to be the night I stopped making excuses. The weather report said that snow was expected but I didn’t care. I was determined.

[It’s been almost a week since that night but sometimes a little time and reflection is helpful to sift out the fluff. Here are the highlights as I remember them now.]

I managed to find my winter biking gear including my ski goggles. It was cold and the roads suck but I was off and riding again. My first top after picking up tobacco at Sarna’s was the 331 Club. I found myself at the bar next to a man who was sitting alone drinking a Miller High Life; the two-for-one special of the evening. He explained that it’s been hard to find work and money has been tight since he got released from prison but he was really hoping to avoid going back. He explained that he would never do anything to hurt another person, except out of honor and loyalty. These were his guiding principles. He was surprised that I had never been to prison; I guess because he’s not used to talking to people who haven’t. I explained that fear has kept me out of prison and in a sense, fear was my prison. He told me that if you want to survive in prison, all you have to do is tell the truth.

He said, “I just tell them that I believe in God. They think that I’m crazy and leave me alone.”

I said, “You want to hear something really crazy? I think that I am God.”

“I don’t think that you are crazy. Not many people are willing to talk to me but you are.”

“That’s because I think that you are God.”

He didn’t believe me that he was God and maybe he was right. Still, he did look like God to me.

Next, I stopped at Club Jager to see if they had anything going on. To my surprise they were setting up for their monthly metal night. I vowed to return and headed off to Grumpy’s Downtown where a friend of mine holds a movie night on Monday’s. He was showing Robocop and Total Recall (the good one). I was more eager to see my friend than I was the movies. We had found ourselves in a three AM online spate recently and I wanted to make sure we were still “cool”. Our argument was over the placebo effect. I took the position that the brain has the power to heal and he was arguing for science and medicine. This is a pretty life or death issue but it’s not like either of us are wrong.

Then it was back to “Metal Night” at Club Jager. I love metal music but mostly I love the metalheads. Seriously, some of the nicest most loving people you will ever meet.

One of the guys I met described himself as a Satanist. He said, “This music is very spiritual to me.”

“A Satanist, huh?” I had to ask, “What do Satanists believe in?”

He told me, “Love.”

“Hmmm, that’s what I believe in as well. Maybe I’m a Satanist.”

The bike ride home was hell. Snow had covered the streets and it was still falling pretty hard. I just kept telling myself, “I can do this, I’ve been through worse.” It was slow going but I finally made it home. I had survived another day!

I woke up the next morning invigorated and feeling alive. I posted the following to facebook:

OMG Last night was amazing. I highly recommend doing stupid things. The world is just one big playground. A playground that could kill you but oh my god, not dying is sooooo much fun!!!

It was at that point that I realized that the day before was just any other day. It was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the day I nearly died; the day of my car accident, the day I lost my right eye. I call it my re-birthday. Every year I celebrate January Thirteenth as the beginning of my new life but this year I totally missed it… or did I?

I’m probably wrong but so what?!?

Yesterday could have been another boring day. It was really too cold to go anywhere. I had no reason to even get dressed let alone take a shower. I managed to write about two-hundred words for my blog. It was nothing that great but it inspired me to see if I could hammer out this song idea that had been floating around in my head for the past four months. I pulled out my guitar and started writing the words. I combined ideas expressed in yesterday’s post with one I made back in October, along with something from a meme I saw recently, added a melody and chord progression and I soon had the framework for a song. I had hoped that writing this blog would have inspired me to be a better songwriter but the reality is that I hadn’t written any music in over a year.

Half way through the song the words stopped. It was time to put it down and let it settle. Just then the phone rang offering me reprieve from the need to figure out what to do next. The following hour and a half were spent listening to my friend share the struggles and successes in her life while I barely uttered a word.  My head was spinning, running every situation through my own lexicon of problem solving strategies and world perspectives searching for tidbits of advice although never having a chance to share them. It wasn’t advice that she needed anyway. She was living her life and dealing with her problems her way. She just needed someone to share them with. When I finally had a chance to speak I chose instead to just share a couple of the situations in my life. There were many commonalities between our stories yet our perceptions of them couldn’t have been more different. I began wondering if my way of seeing the world was completely wrong. I have no problem understanding another person’s perspective but try as I might, I can’t seem to shake my own.

While on the phone I managed to polish off the half glass of wine that had been sitting dormant for the past week in the bottom of a box of Shiraz. After that I cracked the lone remaining tall boy of Grain Belt Nordeast sitting in my fridge. This was not nearly enough to alter my state of mind. I contemplated placing an order with the liquor store but instead chose to battle sobriety a little bit longer.

Nighttime fell and I began to pondered whether I could muster the energy to go see a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a while and was missing terribly when I recieved a text message from her. Hoping for inspiration in her words what I found instead was more despair.  She too was frustrated with the cold outside and while she wanted to go have some fun felt prevented from doing so. My initial thought was to offer sex as a good cold weather activity but for some reason thought that might be inappropriate.  Instead I suggested whiskey. Alcohol lowers the body temperature reducing the perception of cold and drinking can be fun.

I don’t think that she took my advice but I did. I mixed myself a strong gin and tonic and in no time sobriety had completely left my body. I picked up the phone and called her seeking the encouragement I needed to get out of the house. During our conversation I continued to poison myself with alcohol and she grew increasingly frustrated with my intoxication. I would not find what I was looking for and I would not be seeing my friend that night. I returned to my songwriting and quickly wrote the final verse.

Now bored and alone I decided to make a random post to facebook; a common strategy for me when I’m looking to stir up trouble. This led me into a chat with a friend who was going through a difficult time. Once again I found myself in a situation where my worldview seemed completely counter to that of someone else.  Still, we managed to find comfort and encouragement in our shared differences. After spending the day in bed moping he decided that he would get out of the house and surround himself with people. I decided that this would be a good idea for myself as well and set forth to try and meet up with him.

I hopped in the shower and got dressed. I decided that I could make it if I did a combination of biking and busing so I checked the bus schedule. The universe however, did not seem to be on my side with this plan. I managed to miss two busses; the first because I had forgotten my phone and needed to return home, the second because the bus arrived a minute early and in my struggle to get out the door I cut my timing too close. I was ready to throw in the towel but the thought of letting fate win seemed unbearable. Armed with liquid courage and the mantra, “never give up” stuck in my head, I persevered.

My friend arrived at the 19 bar shortly after me. It had been ages since I had been to what used to be my favorite bar but it still felt like home. My friend and I discussed many things but we couldn’t completely avoid the dilemma of day. His struggle, which from what I can tell seems all too common, is how to discern good people from bad people; how to avoid trusting the wrong ones. I wasn’t able to offer much insight into that but I was able to share my thoughts about how we all come off as assholes sometimes and also gave him some insight into how the process of adoption and that sense of abandonment can affect a person. Apparently he found this helpful.

Knowing that I would not survive the bike ride home I wandered down Nicollet Avenue is search of a taxi. With thoughts still burning in my brain I decided to pose a question to three young men that were standing outside Asian Taste. To my relief they also believe that there are no good people or evil people; only people. While this is still a fairly uncommon sentiment it does seem to be more prevalent among the Millennial Generation and that gives me hope.

As I approached the cab stand in front of the Millenium Hotel I became worried as there were no taxis waiting for me. Just then I noticed a cab driving towards me. I managed to get the drivers attention by slipping and falling into the street. I thought for sure that I had lost my chance as taxis don’t typically like picking up drunk people laying in the middle of the road.

But I was wrong. He did pick me up. He was actually very nice. Maybe there are good people.

On the ride home we discussed our kids. The cab driver like many cab drivers in Minneapolis was from Somalia. He has been separated from his kids for five years but now had saved up enough money to fly them to the United States. I’m always curious what it would take to get a man to leave his children and move to another country. In his case, it was for money. Even though Somalia has a wealth of natural resources, most of the money derived from it is not staying in Somalia. Much of it comes to the United States so here is where this man decided he needed to go.  He was pretty angry about this situation. He blamed George Bush Sr, the jews and white people in general for the problems in his country. I could understand why he was upset. Maybe there are evil people in the world. Maybe I am one of them.

Maybe my desire to believe that there are no evil people is because it’s a convenient belief for me to hold. I don’t want to be evil but would I know it if I was? Maybe I’m just too stupid to figure it out. I mean if I was stupid, would I know it? I make a lot of assumption. I hold a lot of beliefs. Do I believe these things because they are right… or only because they are right for me?

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