Summer is over

I’m feeling somewhat set adrift, somewhat missing in action. Summer is clearly over but I haven’t yet begun my winter hibernation. I’m in between worlds yet change is still going on within and around me. The pedicab gig is dying down but still not over. Band activity has started up but not quite in full swing. I’m spending some time with friends and my son is in town but most of my life is pretty lonely. My mood, above all, is tied to the weather and the weather has not been my friend.

Today is Sunday. It’s cold and rainy. I’m not inspired to do anything but knowing what lies ahead has me fearful of wasting what time I have. I need an adventure, but first, I will remove the air conditioner from my bedroom window.

Blame it on the rain

I’ve had my share of challenges in life. I have managed to overcome most of them. I have made changes where possible and adapted where necessary but sometimes the only thing I can do is surrender. That’s how I felt yesterday. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t change it and I couldn’t overcome it. My obstacle was the weather. With five days of cloudy, rainy weather I just couldn’t do it again.

I didn’t give up easily although I hadn’t made the challenge any easier on myself. The night before I managed to use every available hour of my trip home getting completely shit-faced to the point where I needed assistance for the final leg of my journey.

Still, I did manage to get home. I did manage to get up. I did manage to get ready for work and was all poised to head to St. Paul when the call came in saying that I needn’t bother. They had enough drivers in St. Paul and considering the weather, it simply wasn’t worth me making the trip. To be honest, I was relieved. To be honest, I had already come to the same conclusion. As I was sitting in my van, the engine running, the windshield-wipers removing the raindrops from my view, the only thought in my head was, “I can’t do this.”

In fact, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t go to work, I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t even write about how I couldn’t do anything. I had thrown in the towel. I had given up on the day so I retired to bed with a glass of red wine. I spent most of the day sleeping or watching documentaries about the recent economic crash.

But can I really blame it all on the rain? What about my drinking, isn’t that a choice? Isn’t that something I have control over?

Drinking has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember but there have been periods where alcohol hasn’t been such a significant player. There have been times where drinking just didn’t present itself as an option. But I am a drinker. What I know about myself is that given the option, I am going to choose to drink. But I’m more than just a drinker, I’m a drunk. I actually really enjoy the way alcohol makes me feel. Once those chemicals start going to work on my brain, all of my troubles seems to disappear. I’m no longer depressed, I’m not anxious and I don’t feel any pain. As my chemist friends like to remind me, “alcohol is a solution”.

But it’s also a problem. It’s hard to deny the correlation between alcohol and aspects of my life that don’t work as I would like. The question I keep pondering is whether my connection with alcohol is a character defect or simply a character trait.  My instinct is to judge and shame myself for being a flawed human being but my intellect knows the futility of this response. I can change my behavior, I can adapt to most situations, I can mitigate the negative consequences but I can’t change who I am any more than I can change the weather.

Homeless or homefree

Working downtown I encounter a lot of people who are homeless. There are many different reasons why someone may find themselves without a permanent place to call home so I really don’t want to put them in one definitive category. For many it’s an absolute tragedy and a disgrace that we as a society can’t do a better job of caring for our fellow earthlings.

For some abandoning the shackles of a permanent residence is simply the best of the available options. Some may wish for better options but for some being homeless is a viable solution to the challenges life presents. I prefer to call these people homefree. Unencumbered by unnecessary belonging; physical, geographical and emotional ties, their daily needs for food, shelter and security are real, tangible and attainable. It may not be a perfect life but no life is. I don’t judge anyone for how they manage to survive so long as it doesn’t require hurting other people. When I look at all of the people downtown it’s not those we call homeless that are causing the most harm.

In a way I envy them. I look at the problems in my life and most of them have to do with maintaining permanence; my home, my possessions and my relationships. Sometimes I wish I had more important things to worry about – not to suggest that relationships aren’t importance, they are. It’s just that when it comes to maintaining relationships the problems seem to stem from the expectation and insistence on permanence. It might be better to accept, support and even encourage the inevitability of change.

Currently my biggest problem is a drippy faucet in my bathtub – a first world problem for sure. It’s a small drip but I still figure it is wasting five gallons of water a day. I have a bucket catching the water so that I can recycle as much as possible but that’s not a permanent solution. I know how to fix it, I know what I have to do, I just don’t know if I’ll be able to get to it before Monday or Tuesday and it’s really not what I want to be doing with my precious time.

Still, as I was biking home from downtown last night, rain beginning to fall as a major storm approached, I felt very grateful that I had a climate controlled and safe place to sleep.

The times they are a changing

Fuck! It seems like weeks since I’ve written. Oh look, yup, it’s been two weeks. What could have happened in that time? Well a lot. I’ve been a busy boy but it’s all in the past now. This blog is about the moment… and about my mind and the fact is my mind has not really been in the moment lately. I am in a period of transition – just as much of the world is it seems. The past two weeks have been spent appreciating that fact and poising myself for what is to come.

I expected Pride to be different this year, what with same-sex marriage recognized both here in Minnesota and by the Supreme court. We have our first male player on a professional sports team to come out. These are major milestones in what continues to be a long struggle for equality. What I found different this year was just how “normal” being gay is (at least in Minneapolis). Pride really felt more like St. Patricks day only instead of wearing green and being Irish for a day everyone dressed in rainbows and was gay for a day. It was also a helluva lot bigger that St. Patty’s day but hey, June is a helluva lot better of a time that March to have a celebration. I don’t know how everyone else feels about gay being the new green but I’m pretty okay with it. We are all part of some minority group and we are all judged for it but if we have reached the level of acceptance enjoyed by the Irish – I can work with that. Pour me a Jamison, bitches!

But most of this “period of transition” that I have been processing is purely personal. A year ago, I was engaged to be married, had my son living with me and was seriously struggling after a suicide attempt. I wouldn’t say that my life is any less stressful now but the things I’m dealing with are quite different.

The biggest change, and the one that concerns me most, is that none of my support system over the past few years are still playing that role in my life. They have all either moved away, moved on or been kicked out. I’m not sure that is a bad thing. Much of who we are and what we do is effected by the people closest to us and I am clearly getting ready to do something different. I’m going to need some different people.

What concerns me is that none of the people that know me the best are currently keeping an eye on me. I think that I am heading in the right direction; I think that I am making good decisions; I think that things are getting better; but I could be wrong. Without anyone else around I am left to my own devices.

Perhaps that is what this blog is for. Perhaps for what comes next I am going to need all of you to be my reality check. If I’m truly to do something different I’m going to need as many different people in my life as I can find.

 

NOTE: the title of this post is an homage to Bob Dylan who is playing tonight in St. Paul.

I didn’t see that cliff on the map

This whole year I have been running. I have been running to keep from falling down. I have been running because I am afraid to stop. Like a shark, if I stop moving I will die.

While not literally true, this is what it feels like to be me. For the most part, this approach has worked well for me but I have survived enough pitfalls to see it’s limitations. I am convinced that the reason I got sick back in 1999 was because it was the only way for my body to get me to slow down.

I have been on a path on constantly thinking, feeling and doing. I have accomplished a lot. It has been a full life. I honestly believe that if I seize every moment as it comes and make the most of it, when my final moment comes, I will know that I lived the best life I could.

But I also know that I need to take time to just be. But how do I do that? What can I cut out of my life to make room for nothing?

I’m not going to cut out time with my kids. I’m not going to cut out friends. I’m not going to cut out writing. I’m not going to cut out music. I’m not going to cut out working. As it stands, I don’t even come close to doing everything others want from me. I don’t even come close to everything I want from me. I barely, barely have time to do what I absolutely need to do for survival.

Perhaps I could just keep going like this indefinitely but the pragmatist in me says that it is not sustainable. I could just bury my head and keep forging forward but the cautious person in me fears that I may be about to run into a brick wall or off a cliff.

It’s time to get some perspective. It’s time to step back and look at the big picture. I know that I do that from time to time but I don’t know how I do it. What I do know it that one factor that allows me to keep going, even against my better judgement, is alcohol.

I’m going to spend the next two weeks not drinking, just to see what happens. I know that two weeks is pretty much the minimum time needed to assess the effects of a behavioural change. So far it’s been two days and it’s been a mess. I’m sleeping more but when I’m awake I’m running more, thinking more and feeling more. I’ve been doing more but accomplishing less. I have no focus. Basically, my life is in chaos. So the experiment continues…

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