Do wot you do

It’s been over a month since I’ve published anything on this page. I want to apologize for that. Of course I don’t know if my failure to post has caused any harm but I would like to believe that I have been missed. I always knew that I would be back but it was an unintended hiatus. To make a long story short, my life just blew up all at once in many different directions and as a result somethings got left in the dust. Another key factor which necessitated the hiatus was the direction I was trying to take this blog. I started down the path of asking some of the bigger “why” questions and discovered a rabbit hole that was too deep to put into words. Maybe, I’m not ready to take that on quite yet.

Still, I have been thinking about why people do what they do. In an attempt to simplify this question I’ve tried to categorize motivation into three all encompassing categories. We do what we do because:

  • We NEED to
  • We WANT to
  • We CAN do

The last one certainly accounts for all behavior but I felt it needed to be included as a separate motivation because so much of what we do has nothing to do with wants or needs, we just do. We are creatures of habit. We spend most of our day not thinking about why we do what we do; we just do it. Even our reactions to unexpected situations are not clearly thought out. We simply react. I would like to believe that we react by doing the best we can do but often we just do whatever we can do. I think it’s human nature to always be doing something.

I think that my chronic illnesses gives me a unique perspective on why people do what they do. I don’t spend a lot of time specifically talking about my so called disabilities. It’s not because I don’t think it’s an important subject or that I think people can’t relate. It’s because they are so omnipresent in my life that I don’t even think about them most of the time. They are not a separate part of my life. This is just my life. I’m sure that if I felt judged or marginalized for my life I would be more proactive and assertive about discussing my disabilities but considering that most people think I’m pretty functional I don’t see the need to make an issue of it.

What makes my life unique is that everyday I wake up with different abilities. It’s as if I wake up everyday with a new body and a new mind. Like everyone else, I get up everyday and do what I do but what I can do will very greatly from day to day.  I might not even know what that is until I’ve had a cup of coffee. Drinking coffee every morning is about as far as I can get with being a creature of habit. Let’s hear it for the power of addiction; it’s stronger that chronic illness.

So back to why I haven’t been doing this blog for the past month… it might be good to start with my motivation for doing it in the first place. As an artist, I consider this blog part of my art. Artists often feel an unyielding need to produce, to create, to make art. This blog certainly fulfills that need but it’s not the only means by which I have to do it. I actually started this blog as a means to an end. It came into existence because of something else that I wanted to do. For the time being, what I wanted to do is not an option making this blog no longer a means to that end. In the end, writing this blog is not a need nor a want, it is simply something I can do… sometimes.

That may be as good as it gets. For the past month I have barely been able to do the things that I felt I needed to do.  All of a sudden my daughter required more of my time, my job as a pedicab driver started up again, the band that I’m in kicked into gear again and I wound up with a couple of solo gigs that required me to focus on my own music. These are all good things so I have no regrets. I can’t exactly call having to file my taxes a good thing but I made that into more of a distraction than it needed to be. Plus, I’m getting money back so it’s hard to put that in the bad column.

The only truly bad thing thing that has happened over the past month which has contributed to this writing hiatus is having to let go of a friend, although hopefully that will be temporary as well.  There is nothing that I hate more than letting go of people. Sometimes it’s just a necessity. I would love to blame her for this action. I would love to say that she is just a bad person and that I am better off without her in my life. I’m sure that reveling in vitriol would feel better than this, it’s just not something I can do. As a person with chronic illnesses I have to take personal responsibility for my own health. I don’t have the luxury of blaming other people, making them responsible for my life; I can’t afford to give up my power.

Besides, blaming my friend for doing what she does would be like blaming the scorpion for stinging the frog. For those not familiar with what I’m talking about, there is a fable about a frog and a scorpion. The scorpion asks the frog for a ride across the river and the frog refuses stating that the scorpion would sting him. The scorpion makes the case that if he did that he would die too so the frog had nothing to worry about. The frog agrees and give the scorpion a ride on his back. Half way across the river the scorpion stings the frog.

The frog in shock asks the scorpion, “Why did you do that? Now we will both die!”

To which the scorpion replies, “It’s in my nature.”

The moral, at least as I see it, is that people are who they are. They do what they do. Some of it’s nature, some of it’s nurture but you can’t expect people to miraculously change overnight. My friend is a beautiful, wonderful, caring person but she will sting me if I give her the opportunity. I love and trust my friend implicitly because I know that she will always be herself. That is rare and it means a lot to me. You can say that the scorpion is stupid or even evil but I respect him for sticking to his nature even though it will mean his death. I just don’t want to be the frog.

 

 

 

 

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My time is my own

For the first time in seven years I don’t have to deliver City Pages on Wednesday. All my stops have been covered and it is no longer my responsibility. I received a phone call today from Twin Town pedicab asking when I wanted to work this week.  I told them I was taking the week off. Both of my kids are back in school. I’m single, I don’t have any roommates; I don’t even have a best friend. My time is my own.

I’ve spent most of my life running; running to keep from falling down. When I slow down I stop. Like the shark I have to keep moving or I will die. Well, not die, that is a bit of a dramatisation, but it feels that way sometimes. In 1999 I was struck with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. I am convinced that it was my body telling me that I need to slow down. It did more than slow me down though. It brought my activity to a complete halt. Since then I have been working tirelessly to get back on my feet.

I’m finally at a place where I feel strong enough, healthy enough and capable enough to do anything I want to do. But I’m not cured. I still have to struggle with these illnesses. I can’t keep running. I have to slow down sometimes. I want to move forward but I’m still trying to catch up. I want to be there for other people but taking care of me is a full time job. I’m finding that I do better when left to my own devices; but what is the point of doing better if you have no one to share it with?

I’m taking today to do what I need to do for myself. Tomorrow I head to Shangri-la to share what I have with the bliss junkies of Harmony Park. It’s a balancing act with competing extremes. No one understands what it is like to be me but I see a little bit of me in everybody. It’s like being alone in a carnival funhouse where every mirror has been smashed into a million peices.

It’s okay. I’m doing fine, even if you think I’ve lost my mind.  I’m sure it’s around here somewhere, it’s just now what I want to find. I’m going to follow my heart to the land of lonely souls. I’m going to look without seeing to discover what the blind man knows. I may seem weird to you but I’m no weirder than you to me. Our differences are symmetrical, that’s our commonality. So you be you and I’ll be me. It’s the way it’s all been planned. The missing jigsaw puzzle piece is right there in your hand.

Overdid it?

I was a bit fried and frazzled yesterday after my Sunday Funday but I made through just fine. I got my blog posted, retrieved my bike, made it to my therapy appointment and had a good night at my pedicab job. Actually, I was feeling pretty great by the end of the night. I was up for another half hour after crawling in bed which it about 29 minutes longer than I usually last.

Today was a struggle. I feel like I’m running at about twenty percent efficiency. It’s really not a big deal. I have days like this on a regular basis. It’s just the way the story goes but when I tell people that I’m having one of these days the typical response is, “Oh you overdid it!”

I understand this response. For the longest time I wanted to believe that was the case. I wanted to believe that my bad days were caused by something within my control. I wanted to believe that they were caused by pushing myself too hard, not knowing my limits and overdoing it. The truth is that these “bad days” are actually my “normal days”.  The days where I am doing stuff or even overdoing stuff are the exception. It’s just that after years and years of learning what I can and cannot do by pushing myself, testing my limits and just doing it I have turned a life of chronic illness into a life of that is really quite exceptional.

But that’s all you get from me today. I managed to take care of my daughter, take out the recycling and mowed the lawn; I totally feel like I overdid it. I’m sorry, but I’m having a normal day.

And just as a heads up, I’ve got a really busy day tomorrow and will be cut off from most technology this weekend so you may not hear from me until next week.

~Peace

Keep buggering on

It had to end sometime. I knew I couldn’t keep going like that forever, although I certainly tried. One day I was going to wind up dropping. One day I would have to accept that I live with chronic illness. One day is was all going to come to a screeching halt.

That day was yesterday. After sleeping twelve hours I was awakened by a phone call from my bff. Even though I had gotten twice as much sleep as I usually requires, I still couldn’t move. Every inch of my body was in pain. My brain felt scrambled and I couldn’t focus on anything. Even my vision was blurry. I struggled to muster the strength to make it downstairs to the bathroom only to find that I had exhausted all my energy and crawled back to bed. I spend the entire day in bed only moving to use the bathroom or get food. Chewing seemed like an arduous task.

It’s been awhile since I have had a day like that but there was a time when it was my reality more often than not. It has been a long road to get here from the time I first got sick with chronic fatigue syndrome but it never really goes away. It is still common for me to have a day or two a week that are like that. The biggest change is in what I can do when I am able to move.

Last Wednesday should have done me in. I’m pretty sure that if I had gone home after delivering CityPages, it would have.  Instead, I went to the Bad Waitress for dinner and then to the bar. My bff met me there and I crashed on her couch. We had brought a friend back to her place with us because he was concerned about going home to his boyfriend. It sounded like he was in a pretty abusive relationship and his boyfriend had a gun – not a good combination. He had threatened him with the gun in the past. The three of us stayed up talking into the wee hours of the morning. The plan was for the boy to spend the night but I don’t even remember falling asleep. All I know is that when I woke up he was gone. We did get a txt from him later to let us know he was okay.

My bff had the day off on Thursday but she still got up with me so we could have coffee together. After a leisurely cup of coffee with my best friend I was off and running… and running late. I had to stop by another best friend’s place to drop off some newspapers to help in her packing. She was moving this month.

I really hope that I can do more to help but that may not happen. The important thing is not what we have to give, but that we give what we have. If we all pull together and do that, things will be okay.

Then next stop was picking up my daughter from school. I was twenty minutes late picking her up. Half of that was me running late, the other half was the weather. I was not alone in being late picking up my kid. There were lots of kids waiting to be picked up. We were under blizzard conditions and the roads were treacherous. I was really excited to take my daughter to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for their Third Thursday event. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that would be wise considering the weather. It was hard enough driving during daylight. I didn’t trust myself to be able to get her home after dark. I hate driving at night even under perfect conditions.

Instead, I just dropped her off at her mother’s and headed home. By the time I got home, I had just enough time to shovel my sidewalk (it was already covered with snow by the time I left again), take a piss, rub one out quick, take a shower and get dressed before hopping on the bus. There was no way I was driving anymore and biking seems totally out of the question but I still needed to get to the MIA. I was running on pure adrenaline.

The reason why getting to the MIA was so important to me was because Lisa Germano was playing. She is the woman who borrowed my synth for South by Southwest and I was really looking forward to meeting her. As it turned out, she cancelled the gig. I guess she canceled the whole tour. I don’t know why. Her website has no explanation but these things happen. Kaiser Cartel also canceled and there is no info on their website either.

Oh well. My friend, Savannah Smith filled in at the last minute, so it was good to see her. My bff went with me and another friend who I hadn’t seen in a while joined us as well. Back when we were all single we used to be kind of three peas in a pod. It was good to have that gang back together.

Still, I was struggling. The weather was really wearing me down. As it turned out, it was probably better that my daughter was not there as I was exhausted by the barriers that were being placed before me.

Don’t I have it hard enough?

I keep going because I am afraid to stop. I know when I stop it is really hard to get going again. I feel like I am running while leaning forward. The only thing that keeps me from falling on my face is that I keep moving. I am constantly falling yet constantly moving. Just like the earth is falling into the sun but keeps missing it. It’s physics.

I keep hoping that it will get easier. I keep hoping that Spring will come. I see signs of hope. I see the snow melt. I feel relief is in sight but it never comes. I just have to keep buggering on.

While at the MIA I was asked how I keep my spirits up. I just raised the beer in my hand and shrugged my shoulders.

The truth is that alcohol is a major part of what keeps me going – that and friends, but in my life, the two are pretty intertwined. Music, writing and biking also keep me going but they don’t mean shit without people.

So I decided I would kidnap my two friends and drag them to my work party. It’s not really what you think of when you think, “work party”. I work for CityPages and they throw some of the best parties in town. This one was a roaring 20’s / bootlegger / flapper themed party. Check out some of these pictures from my friend Erik Hess. None of us were appropriately dressed but that didn’t matter. When I walked in I was told that I was dressed in the wrong decade. I responded that I am every decade. Okay, I was dressed in leopard print pants and probably looked straight out of the ’80 glam metal era but so fucking what.

Since I kidnapped them I figured I should pay for the cab. Apparently all of us had money that night because we were all fighting to pay for each other. I’m telling you, if you want to stimulate the economy; give money to poor people. We will spend it! I was fully prepared to spend the $100 I left the house with. Mostly, I just knew that it would be a challenging night and I didn’t want money to stand in the way of me getting home safe. I have no problem spending money on cabs.

As it turned out we didn’t need to take a cab back. Our friend’s girlfriend came and joined us later in the evening. It was great to have a sober ride home. Well, not home, but to the 19 bar. We were too sober to head home but plenty drunk enough to get into a snowball fight – in the car! You kind of had to be there but feel free to use your imagination. I’m not a good enough writer to do it justice.

After the 19 my bff and I headed back to her place with one of her co-workers. On the walk, we had to stop and make snow angels. It’s kind of a winter tradition for us but our first attempt this year didn’t work out so well. I never thought that we would be fulfilling this mission in April.

Snow Angel in April

I love the imprint of my studded belt.

 

The co-worker only stuck around for a little while waiting for her bus. My bff and I stayed up until at least four in the morning. It was a pretty intense night after a pretty intense day. We talked about the death of her best friend and about the significance of our friendship.

I say it all the time but I don’t know if I have ever written it down: this is the best friendship I have ever had – and I have some of the most amazing friendships a person could ever dream of. This woman is just so special to me that I never feel like I have adequate words to describe our relationship. It’s like no other relationship I have ever had. It’s like no other relationship I have ever heard of. It’s like the best parts of family combined with the best parts of friendship combined with the best parts of romance – except without the sex. That is not to say that we don’t have our problems. Our relationship may include some of the worst parts as well. All I can say is that it is amazing, unbelievable and completely unique.

We shared tears that night. We felt incredibly close and vulnerable. I asked if I could sleep in her bed with her. I like to snuggle. She doesn’t usually like this. She likes her freedom to move around. Also, I sometimes grab her boobs in my sleep. I can see how that might make her uncomfortable. On this night however, she was happy to have someone to sleep with.

It was hard enough for my friend to get up Friday morning. I wasn’t as much help as I could have been but I’m sure me being in her bed helped. As it was she was running late for work. I was figuring I wouldn’t be working at all. It still looked like fucking winter outside. In Minnesota, people drive pedicab all year round but even I think that is stupid. I called the pedicab company in hopes that they would tell me that there was no point in coming in. That is not what happened.

They said, “It’s Friday night, there is a big Styx, REO Speedwagon & Ted Nugent show in town and the streets have been cleared.”

Okay, I thought. I’m new at this and they know better than I. If they want me, I’m going to be there. Plus, I know that if I want to keep going I need to stay consistent.  Even if I have a bad night I need to keep buggering on.

I got up, did a load of dishes, went to the store to get cat litter and Drano, came back and changed the cat box, cleared the drain in the bathroom sink and did another load of dishes. Then I hopped on the bus to go home. I still needed to take a shower, shave and wash my blanket for the pedicab. I don’t remember but I’m pretty sure I took time to jack-off as well. As crazy as my life was feeling, I knew that what I was going through was nothing compared to the folks on lockdown in Boston.

Friday was a pretty shitty night; at least it started out that way. I didn’t get a single ride off the big concert at the Target Center. I started working at 8pm but I didn’t start getting rides until after midnight. It still turned out alright. Gay men and drunks are my bread and butter and they totally saved my ass. I know my people.

Saturday was a nicer day so I figured I would go in even earlier. I also wanted to make sure my pedicab was in top working form. It seemed to be but I still was having problems, I presume do to the weather. It was still too fucking cold. Anyway, Saturday was a fun night. Technically, the best night I have had to date. It was also the most exhausting. By the time I was done at 3am, I was beat, and it was snowing. I sent my bff a message to see if I could crash at her place. She lives much closer to the garage than I do and I didn’t think I could make it home. Even if I could, the bike ride in the snow would have been hell.

Sunday morning I woke up on my bff’s couch once again. She wouldn’t have to get up for another few hours but I needed coffee. I also needed a smoke and nobody likes smelling cigarette smoke while they are sleeping. I gathered my things and headed out the door. I still had no real plan.

In the entryway to her apartment building, sitting on top of the mailboxes were a pair of Roland MA-8’s. “Holy shit!”, I thought. These would be perfect for making music on my laptop. I couldn’t believe that someone would just be giving them away. I figured someone in the process of carrying things in and had just set them down. I went outside and had a smoke on the steps while I contemplated what to do. After 10 minutes, no one had come back for the speakers so I figured they were mine. Wow, sometimes the universe is so awesome!

I had been tempted to just head home but after that I figured I should just keep buggering on and see where this day takes me. I love Sundays and I love drinking with people who drink on Sundays. I’m not saying that it was the brightest decision in the world but you are free to judge for yourself.

Here is what happened:

  • CC Club for breakfast – coffee, 2 screwdrivers and a veggie omelet.
  • Conversation on the patio with a conservative about the smoking  ban. We actually agreed on somethings.
  • Two beer.
  • Played darts with a friend and his buddy. They were celebrating my friend getting fired. I won at darts.
  • Started my bike ride home stopping off at the Saloon, a gay bar downtown.
  • $3 gin and tonics. Gay bar strong. Must have had 3. I was pretty drunk.
  • Sat down with a pretty 22 year old college student who didn’t look like she should be drinking alone. This was true. Even her friend who was txting her hoped that she wasn’t drinking alone. She took a liking to me. Started making out with me at the bar. I’m not one to complain about a hot college co-ed wanting to makeout with me but this was a gay bar and I do have a reputation to maintain.
  • I literally poured her into a cab. The cab driver insisted that I come with – not really his job to take care of her. I agreed. There was no telling where this would lead. She was all over me – biting me – I like biting. My judgement was a bit off but I would never have sex with someone that drunk. Still, there is a lot of fun that can be had that falls short of sex.
  • I get her to her destination and the cab takes off. The woman also makes it clear that she is done for the night. Luckily, I took that cab drivers number. He comes back and returns me to the Saloon where my bike is locked up.
  • From there I head to my friend Doug Anderson’s new bar for a drink. It’s called the Belmore/New Skyway Lounge. I hadn’t been there yet and I wanted to check it out. Call it reconnaissance, not just for the band but as a pedicab driver as well. It’s a great space and the bartender was awesome. Unfortunately, we were the only two people there the entire time. I sincerely hope that he does better on the weekends. I’m sure he does.
  • It’s still early so I thought I would hit Bunker’s and catch one of my favorite bands, Dr. Mambo’s Combo. I pulled up to the door on my bike and the bouncer told me to keep moving. Okay, I thought. I’m pretty drunk, maybe I should just go home. I got about a block away and realized that he did not have enough interaction with me to make that assessment. He had no idea who I was, so I headed back to talk to him. This was not cool. His mind was made up. He didn’t care who I was. He was being a prick and he was sticking to it. Fair enough.
  • Next attempt was BJ’s, a strip club. They had me pegged as someone to not let in off of their surveillance cameras. Seriously, they judged me solely on the fact that I was riding a bike and had an overstuffed backpack.  I even had a nice conversation with the bouncer but there was nothing he could do.
  • At this point I was determined to get another drink. I stopped in at Halak’s. No bouncer, no security camera, no problem. I had a beer there and then headed out for a smoke. I decided that it was time to move on but headed back in to hand the bartender another $5 for not judging me. He said I was no problem and was welcome there anytime. This is why I love dive bars!
  • The queen of all dive bars is the T-shop in my neighborhood. I don’t go there very often because they are usually closed by the time I get home. They are a beer-only bar and usually close by midnight. This night I was getting home well before midnight. I really do love this bar. I love Debbie the bartender. Also sitting at the bar was another famous musician in town. He’s the lead singer in a Tom Petty cover band.  We are both talented musicians and songwriters who make our way in the world playing other people’s music. We had a great conversation about that.

Judge me however you want but there was a movie in that night. Maybe I should have just gone home and had my day of doing nothing on Sunday but I wouldn’t have missed that day for anything. Sure, maybe I would have been able to move on Monday if I had, but Monday would never have been as exciting as that.

There is a saying, “Don’t judge me until you have walked a mile in my shoes.” Fuck, I don’t give a shit if anyone walks in my shoes. Judge me all you want. I just hope that you will take the time to walk a mile in your own shoes. Most people don’t even do that!

When one door opens, god closes a window

One of the best lessons that I have learned from living with chronic illnesses is that I can’t do everything… at least not all at once. We all have limits. We all have to contend with the limits of the human body. Some bodies may be more capable than other but they all have limits. We can work on increasing those limits but that takes time and effort and takes away from doing other things. All earthlings are restricted to 24 hours in a day. Everyday, each one of us needs to eat, sleep and shit. Some people need more, some need less. Some can accomplish more, some less, but we all have a limit to what we can accomplish. We all have good days and bad days but none of them go one forever and even good days have to come to an end.

I feel like I’ve been having a lot of good days lately. I’m really excited about writing this blog. I’m excited about starting a new job. I really like doing the pedicab thing.  I like having money again. My relationship with my daughter is going very well. I’m so grateful to be spending regular time with her again. I’m relieved that my bff and I were able to work through our conflict from last Friday. Through that experience I learned some important lessons and I believe it made our relationship even stronger. My body is getting stronger too. I’ve been smoking less and drinking less and all those things are good. I’ve been a very busy boy, life is on the upswing and much has been accomplished in the pursuit of my goals and dreams.

But… for all of my accomplishments there are areas where I fall short of my expectations. For every success comes failure. I totally spaced my therapy appointment on Tuesday. I’m not doing yoga which is also something that really helps me. I’m not spending as much time with my friends as I would like. I’m not reading as much as I would like. I haven’t been writing or playing music. I’m way behind on laundry and cleaning. My van needs repairs, as do things around the house, but I haven’t been able to get to them yet. My to-do list keeps getting longer. I don’t know how I’m ever going to get everything done. The reality may be that I can’t. The reality is that I need help. They reality is that I can’t do it alone.

I’ve often heard that I don’t have my priorities right. I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating what that means. To be honest, it has me at quite a loss. Beyond making sure that I am available for my kids when they need me or respond in a crisis, I have no idea how to prioritize.

My only priority is to the present moment. The most important thing in my life is what I am doing right now for it is the only thing I can do. Whatever I can manage to accomplish with this moment that is meaningful, productive, loving or real is the best that I can hope to achieve. If I can make each and every waking moment significant in one way or another I would consider that a pretty amazing life. I can’t say that every moment has gone that way but most of them have. For all the things I may never get to, my tribute is doing all that I do.

Pride and Prejudice

I’ve obviously not been keeping up with my personal goal of posting everyday. It always sucks when I don’t meet my goals but I would rather fail at doing something than succeed at doing nothing. To me, the important thing is that I keep going, doing the best I can and not get too discouraged. My last post was written over the course of Sunday and Monday. It pretty much covered the highlights of Thursday through Saturday.

On Sunday my son returned to college after spring break. I barely had anytime to myself for a week so when he left I felt a calm come over me. That calm that an introvert feels when they are alone and at peace. Most people think of me as an extrovert and quite often I am, but after a week of fairly intense interactions I become introverted. My plan was to go to a one year sobriety party for a friend but what I really needed was time to myself – so that’s what I did.

By the way, time to myself does not mean writing – at least not blog writing. I actually find this to be an intensely extroverted activity. As I’m sitting here writing I’m imagining all of you reading it. Sure, at this point that may only be six people but that is still a lot. That still takes a lot of extroverted chutzpah.

Monday night seemed like a good night to get wasted. I had a couple beers at the Bad Waitress the shared a couple pitchers with a friend at the CC Club. It was almost 10pm and I hadn’t finished my gift shopping for my bff so I headed to the liquor store before meeting her at the 19.

Tuesday I woke up on my friends couch and headed home so that I could pick up my daughter. I hung out with her after school and into the evening. I was pretty wiped by the time I got back from dropping her off at her mothers so I went to bed early.

Wednesday I worked all day delivering City Pages and RENT 411. After that I picked up Chinese food and heading to a depressed friend’s house to see if I could do some cheering up. This wasn’t just bad mood depression. This was real clinical depression but it still helps to have an understanding friend around.

Okay… now that we’ve got that out of the way, this is what I want to talk about:

I’m starting a new fucking job!

Since getting sick and going on Social Security back in 1999 it has been my life duty to get better and move forward, just as it would have been if I never got sick. In other words, I’m not trying to get back to where I was. That would be insane. That is what made me sick. Getting sick moved me from where I was and changed my trajectory but it never changed my goals.

I’m just trying to get better at what ever pace I can manage. I think that is the dream of anyone with a chronic illness or condition. I’m not talking about terminal illness. I don’t feel qualified to speak to that, although technically, we all have a terminal illness.

What Social Security has done for me is give me the time to explore what I can and cannot do without risking homelessness or starvation when I fail. It has allowed me to discover what I am good at so that I can be the best person I can be. I wouldn’t wish my “disabilities” on anyone, but fuck! I wish everyone got Social Security. In stead of a safety net, it should be a concrete floor which no one can drop below. Seriously, no one should be worse off financially than me no matter how stupid or unlucky they are. Stupid people are people too and we need crazy fucking risk takers if we are going to advance as species!

What really pisses me off are people who think that those on disability are lazy and milking the system. Really?!? You don’t think that people would seek a better life if they could? Living on Social Security sucks! Getting on Social Security sucks. I know a number of people who could qualify but struggle on without it because they don’t want to admit that their life sucks more than someone on disability! But hey, if you think that people on disability have it made and are jealous because you don’t qualify, let me know. I will gladly come poke your eyes or cut off your legs. Then you can live the high life too.

WOW… I really got off on a tangent there. It was an important tangent but I really wanted to talk about my new job.

So I’m going to be a pedicab driver. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a bicycle taxi. It’s like a rickshaw pulled by a bicycle. They are common in Asia but becoming more common in major cities in the United States. It’s not so much a transportation solution like a regular taxi, but part of the whole entertainment experience of a night on the town; part classy escort through the busy entertainment district, part tour guide. Yeah, totally up my fucking alley!

A few years back, when pedicabs started showing up in Minneapolis, I began wondering if it was something I could do. A big part of my recovery process has been getting back into biking but could I really do it as a job?

I determined that I could. I had been working as a newspaper delivery driver, as I still am, and really wanted to get out from behind the wheel and over the pedals. My big fear was the sales aspect, the dealing with the public part. I’ve done sales and I’ve been good at it. It was just a long time ago and I hated it. But then I realized, it’s not sales, it entertainment. I can do that! But entertaining fans from the stage is different than entertaining strangers who are standing on the sidewalk. That scared the shit out of me.

I wasn’t ready. But now I am. Almost. At least I’m ready to take the next step.

Saturday I went in to meet with the owner of Twin Town Pedicab. This is the closest thing that I’ve had to a job interview in next to… forever. I was a little bit terrified. I’ve been delivering papers for seven years. I suppose I had some sort of interview for that. I auditioned for All The Pretty Horses six years ago. That was a bit of an interview, but I knew I was awesome. Before that I worked cleaning houses for my best friend. Before that I did web design. I had two clients, both of whom were non-profits I worked with where I was in charge of hiring the IT. Don’t worry, I donated all of my income back to the organization.

My last real job interview was in 1996. I got the job, they put me in a monkey suit, I made a shitload of money and it nearly killed me.

But the meeting with the pedicab company wasn’t really a job interview. It still felt like one but really it was a sales pitch. Technically, I’m not their employee, I’m their customer.

I said, “Oh good, I’m a shitty employee.”

That didn’t go over so well. I was met with a suspicious, “What do you mean by that?”

I replied, quite confidently, “I just mean that I don’t believe in working for people, I believe in working with people.”

I guess I passed the audition.

Monday I went in for training on the pedicab. Driving a pedicab can be compared to riding a bicycle like driving a tour van is to driving a Ferrari.  That is to say, not at all! But within ten minutes I had it down and was out on the road. Apparently that was a bad idea. Until I have my pedicab licence driving on the road is totally illegal. Oops. Nothing bad happened but I’m sure I freaked out my trainer. With all the one way streets and dead-ends it took me twenty minutes to get back to the garage. Still, he was willing to get in the cab and let me take him for a spin around downtown Minneapolis. I think I did alright. I nicked a pothole and hit the brakes a little hard once but I’m still learning. I don’t think it will take me too long to get it down. I’m going to make mistakes but that is how I learn.

I still don’t know what they think of me though. I’m sure they have a lot of people who think they can do this but then quit. I’m sure that they are wondering who I am. Who is this weird, looking, weird dressing 46 year old and why does he want to be a pedicab driver? I’m sure they have their doubts. I’m sure they have their prejudices. Fuck, I have my own. I’m prejudging them by assuming that they have doubts about me.

Prejudice sucks, but it is also unavoidable. We all have it. In a way, we need it to make sense of this crazy complex world. It might be inaccurate but we have to start somewhere. I prefer to start with curiosity and intrigue but sometime that will get you killed. We need to be able to make uninformed judgments sometimes for the sake of safety. My problem is with intentional ignorance. I have a problem when someone’s prejudice prevents them from learning about another person. That just makes me sad.

What makes me angry is when someone allows their prejudice or ignorance to turn into hostility. When we take action based on these points of view we are discriminating. When our discrimination about a class of people causes harm it is wrong and unjust. Proposition 8 in California and DOMA at the federal level are wrong and unjust. I pray the Supreme Court of the United States will do their job of protecting the American people by striking down these unjust laws. Those who are being harmed by them cannot wait for people to overcome their prejudices. Human lives are at stake. Children’s lives are at stake. America has a horrible history of treating people unfairly but we can do better. I believe in this country. Please don’t let me down!

A week in a day

Taking a couple of days off last weekend totally screwed up my daily post schedule. It’s also been a hard week for me to get anything done besides writing. I don’t know if that’s because I had a big weekend but I doubt it. Weeks like this happen regardless of what I do. It’s just the natural ebb and flow of chronic illness. It would have helped if I had kept up on taking Vitamin D every day but that got neglected in all the chaos.

Here’s a synopsis of my week to the best of my recollection:

Monday (25 Feb 2013)

I woke up at 11 am but was moving pretty slow. I had gotten 8 hours of sleep, which is two more than I usually get, but I had no motivation and an achy body. I had nothing to be excited about until I saw a text message from one of my best friends. She was also lacking motivation but needed to spend some time promoting her new business. Sometimes it’s easier to find motivation for someone else’s project than your own.

We spent several hours that afternoon putting up flyers. I was mostly there just for support but sometimes that’s all it takes. At least it got me out of the house. Without that, I have a feeling I would have laid in bed all day.

I was still beat by the time I got home. I received a call from a friend seeing if I would go out with her but I was done. I spent the evening writing and was passed out by midnight.

Tuesday (26 Feb 2013)

Tuesday sucked! After sleeping 10 hours it still took everything I had to get out of bed. I guess there was a high pollution count in the air. That may have made things worse. Fuck pollution  Not to mention, I had run out of coffee. How the hell did I let that happen? Oh yeah, sucky week so far.

The only thing I had to do was pick my daughter up from school at 3 pm. I did manage to do that but she was also having a really bad day. She just wanted me to take her back to he mother’s. I’m still glad I got to see her, even if only for a little bit.

In a way, I was relieved. This way I could just go home and get some more writing done. I stopped on the way to get tobacco and coffee, two things I neglected to pick up while out the day before. I also got some food for dinner since I hadn’t eaten all day.

At 8:15 pm I got a txt from a friend asking if she could call me. I had called her a couple of times over the past week or so and she was feeling bad about not getting back to me. I sent her a message back saying, “Call me. I’m just sitting at home writing.” [Actually I put two t’s in writing. I make that mistake a lot.]

We talked for a good hour but then I needed to get back to work. I finally got my post published just after midnight and headed to bed. There I got sucked into watching House of Cards on Netflix and didn’t actually fall asleep until 3 am.

Wednesday (27 Feb 2013)

Wednesday was my job day. I woke up a little later than I normal but not so late that I couldn’t get my route done in time. It just meant that I would run into a little more rush hour traffic at the end of the day but I skipped the morning rush hour traffic. Now that it is not getting dark so early I think it’s totally worth working later in the day.

I was still done by 4 pm or so. I called my friend to see if she would come in early for her restaurant job and hang out with me before punching in. I also called a mutual friend to join us. Good thing I did because friend #1 didn’t show up until it was time for her clock in. I would have been fine on my own. It’s just hard to see all the people I want to so sometimes I double book. I’m glad when I get to see at least one of them.

I ordered half a sandwich, soup and a beer. Shortly after, my friend showed up. I had not seen her since she got back from Florida so I was really eager to catch up. The whole time we were talking, I was eating and drinking my beer and she was just drinking the water I brought her. I was wondering why she wasn’t ordering anything. Was she not hungry? Was she not drinking? I didn’t want to pry but I was perplexed.

Then, through the course of our conversation, it became clear that she was not ordering anything because she couldn’t afford to order anything. I felt horrible. I could have at least offered her some of my soup or sandwich. In any case it would have been the polite thing to do.

Instead, I was selfish. I was treating myself after getting paid to a meal at a restaurant. It was the only real meal I would eat that day and I didn’t want to share. I was afraid to share. After six months of barely making it, I was afraid to be in that position again. I felt like I was splurging as it was and I didn’t have anything to spare.

But I did. I had money in my pocket. I could have at least bought her a beer. Instead I was a selfish dick. As bad as my financial situation was, her’s was worse. I made it through these past few months only because of the generosity of friends. Here was an opportunity for me give back and I blew it. There were other ways I could have helped that night but I kept over-thinking the situation, giving in to fear and not following my heart. Let me tell you, not honoring your core values feels really shitty.

I must have gotten home about 8 pm. I still wanted to get some writing done but I felt so far behind on my daily updates that I didn’t know where to start. Instead I decided to write my About page. I figured it was about time I had one of those.

Thursday (28 Feb 2013)

Getting out of bed on this particular morning was the worst it had been all week. For two hours I struggled. I would begin to get out of bed, roll half-way over and become too exhausted to continue. I would rest for another 10 – 15 minutes and try it again. I kept trying to entice myself with thoughts of coffee but in the end I just had to get all drill sergeant on my ass by tapping into my anger and frustration. I believe that chronic fatigue syndrome is primarily a condition of the brain but the brain is a pretty power piece of machinery.

About the only thing I accomplished during the day was writing my daily post which had nothing to do with my daily activities anyway. I did manage to get a shower in for the first this week but as a result I was running late to pick up my daughter from school.

When I got out to my van I discovered that my battery was completely dead. Some idiot had left the dome light on overnight. Okay, that idiot was me. Still, I was in a panic. A man a the end of the block was sitting in his car waiting to pick his daughter up from the bus. I asked him if he could give me a jump. I explained the urgency of my situation and he agreed to help. Unfortunately my jumper cables didn’t work for shit. We gave up and I realized I needed to get a hold of my daughter. It was ten to three and she would be out of class at 3 pm.

I didn’t even have the school’s phone number. My daughter’s phone has been lost in her apartment for over a month. I had no way to get a hold of her. I had to call her mother who started spewing so much information at me I could barely keep up and it just made me more frustrated as it got closer and closer to the time my daughter would be getting out of school. There was a time crunch here.

Anyway, I figured out what I needed to do. After some research online and a number of phone calls I finally got through to someone who could get a message to my daughter. She could go home with a friend and everything would be okay.

I still had to get my van running though. Normally I would just call AAA and someone would come give me a jump but I have already used up all my service calls until April. Yeah, I get my monies worth but now I was on my own. I couldn’t afford to call a service station to come give me a jump. I didn’t even know which of my friends to call so I turned to Facebook. Within 10 minutes I had two people offering to give me a jump. These were not even close friends, just people who knew of me and were able to help. It really made me feel like I was part of a community. I am so grateful for that!

Now with my van running I was just waiting to hear from my daughter so that I could go pick her up. I waited and waited. I sent a text message to her mother stating what I had done and that I hadn’t heard anything. I called the apartment but there was no answer. These are the moments a parent dreads, but I knew that they usually turn out just fine so I tried to remain calm. At 6:51 I called again and got my daughter on the phone. Her mother had picked her up. Relieved, I asked if she wanted me to come pick her up or if she wanted to stay there and I would see her the next day. She informed me that she had a doctor appointment in the morning so we decided I would pick her up after that and she could spend the night Friday.

I need to get this girl another cell phone. I can’t go through another day like that.

Friday (1 Mar 2013 – today)

I woke up today feeling pretty normal. I was excited to see my daughter. I was excited to get my life back on track. I made coffee, took my Vitamin D and got to work writing. I had a week’s worth of daily updates to write. Monday and Tuesday were pretty easy. I don’t know if you’ve notices but each day get’s progressively longer. I don’t know if that is because the passage of time gives me clarity or because I just fucking forget shit.

It’s now after one in the morning and I really need to get this done before I go to bed. I’m helping a friend move in the morning so I don’t want to spend all night doing this. Let’s see if I can be brief. This is already my longer post I’ve ever written.

At 10:09 am, as I’m exiting the freeway, I get a call from my ex-wife saying that my daughter is done with her appointment. I told her I was 2 minutes away and would pick her up at the main door of the hospital. When I got there my ex told me that she was going to miss her bus to class and asked if I could drive her to the bus stop. I love my ex-wife, as I love all people, but I really can’t stand being around her. Still, I know that if I can help someone I need to help them so I drove her to her class.

The next thing that needed to happen was to get my daughter a cell phone. We drove to World of Wireless. I’ve had some good experiences with them before but I think they are now way over-priced. A new place opened two doors down that is cheaper but my daughter and I both though we could do better.

We headed back to my house to check Craigslist and eBay. We had some fun bidding on eBay but didn’t win. Then it was time to run off for her chiropractic appointment.

When we returned I checked the mail and found my State tax refund check. We went back to eBay and bought a brand new phone, the same kind she lost, for $75.

We talked, had a snack, played a game, made dinner, watched TED Talks and a movie and whenever she was distracted with her own activities I would try to get some more writing done. That didn’t really work. Even when she is doing her own thing she could still manage to interrupt what I was doing. As well she should. I don’t see her that much and she loves her dad and she is absolutely my priority. We just need to work out some boundaries and mutual respect. She has a blog that she is working on as well. We will work it out in our own way. I just don’t think she has much experience with these things. So I sent her to bed at midnight and now I think I’m done.

In the news this week…

Minnesota introduced a bill that would remove the prohibition on same-sex marriage. After defeating an attempt to change the constitution to legalize this kind of discrimination I believe now is the time to end it once and for all.

Chuck Hagal was confirmed as Secretary of Defense. I think this is a very good thing too. Even though he is a Republican, I believe he is a man of principles and integrity.  That means more to me than whether we agree or not on all the issues. Unfortunately the congressional Republicans don’t see life that way…

…and so we have enter into sequestration.

 

 

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