A good day

Today has been a good day. In fact I’ve had a couple of good days so far this week and it’s only Tuesday. I woke up yesterday with a strong sense of guilt. Actually I woke up with a strong sense of embarrassment but after I let that go the guilt quickly emerged. This is not an uncommon experience after a night of heavy drinking but I think it’s more common when whiskey is involved. Sunday was a whiskey night.

Anyway, I felt like I had an apology to make. I’ve been doing a lot of wrestling with shame, guilt and apology. Frankly, I haven’t seen the point to any of it. I have seen guilt as imposed by the outside as an attempt to control and shame as a lack of self-love. An artist should never apologize for their art and no one should ever apologize for who they are. If you are being a genuine authentic person, you should never need to apologize.

Or so I thought.

I have apologized however. I do see their social purpose and benefit of apology but I’ve not really understood what it meant and how it was associated with guilt and shame until recently. To be honest, I still don’t understand it completely but I think I’m on the right path.

Brené Brown has a couple of TED talk videos dealing with shame and guilt that I have found eye-opening. I highly recommend watching them both (in order) but the main point I want to convey here is that guilt is saying, “I did something wrong”, shame is saying, “I am wrong”.

But understanding this still didn’t help. I still couldn’t see the difference. When I’ve done something that hurt another person they hardly ever say, “you did something that hurt me”, they usually say “YOU hurt me”. As I result I hear, “I am wrong” and I’m not willing to take that on.

It was only yesterday, AS I WAS WRITING “Do what you do” that I realized that I am not my actions. That is not to say that I’m not responsible for my actions, only that they don’t define me. It just means that I can separate the two. It means that I can separate shame and guilt. It means that I can apologize for what I did without having to apologize for who I am. This is a good thing. Considering that I’m going to do what I do, I may have to get really good at apologizing.

So back to my story…

I felt like I had kind of been a dick to my friend the night before and that my actions may have hurt her. I sent her a text message stating as much and it turned out that I was right. I had made a situation personal that didn’t need to be and that prevented me from being the compassionate empathetic person I want to be. I’ve got my hang-ups and insecurities and I do that. I also have the ability to recognize it, take responsibility for my actions and apologize.

Fortunately I was also presented with an opportunity to make amends. Her favorite bar-tender was leaving Mortimer’s after eighteen years on the job. She wanted to go say good-bye to him. She was going to drive to see him but driving to drink is stupid. Cold weather biking kind of sucks too but if you have a friend that bikes all winter long, maybe it won’t be so bad. I got to be that friend.

So vowing not to drink whiskey, I set out to help my friend get across town to south Minneapolis by bicycle. There are a couple of things to know about cold weather biking. The first is to dress in layers so you can stay warm. Second is to not sweat. This means biking slower. It also means taking breaks so we stopped half way at Clubhouse Jager for a drink. On the way back we stopped at the 311 Club.

To not bore you with details, let me just say it was a successful night. I was able to polish off a couple of glasses of wine in my friends garage before I was completely done. I crawled into her bed, chilled to the bone, but quickly warmed up sandwiched between my beautiful friend and her awesome pit-bull.

I woke up this morning at about two in the afternoon. I wasn’t moving too fast, as is typical for me, but I was pleased to not be hung-over given that I drank a total of thirteen drinks the day before. I snuggled with my friend some more before embracing the day.

I’m in a period of transition between working my ass off as a pedicab driver and tackling a really long to-do list of all the things I have been putting off. The wonderful thing about having a really long to-do list is that just about anything I do will move me forward. Today I decided to tackle mowing my lawn and fixing the drip in my bathtub.

I borrowed my friend’s power mower to mow my lawn. Most of the year I can do just fine with my push mower but the first time I mow and the last time I mow I really need the power of a gas mower. In the past I have rented, but having a friend who will loan me theirs is even better. Fixing the drip was easy, I just needed to take the time and get the part. Today was that day.

So life still sucks but it is what it is and what it is is a lot. If you keep it simple, do what you do and pay attention you may find that some days are pretty damn good!

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I suck, so what

I feel like I have been putting off writing this post for an eternity. That’s probably because I’ve been doing nothing but thinking about it for the past few of days while finding all sorts of other things to do instead. To be fair, they were also things that needed to get done but I can tell when I’m avoiding something.

It all started Saturday night. After driving pedicab all afternoon I figured I had done enough damage for one day and decided to take the night off. I thought it would be fun to check out some of the downtown clubs that my my pedicab customers frequent. While not my scene, I’ve got to tell you that these places sure know how to throw a party. It didn’t take long for me to get caught up in the action. It was fun seeing life from the other side of the fence. I even took a drunken pedicab ride three blocks between club stops. Pedicab rides are fucking awesome. Totally worth the twenty bucks I gave him.

When the last club I tried to get into had a line around the corner I decided that I had had enough and retreated to more comfortable surrounding. I headed to the Brass Rail, a small gay club on Hennepin Ave. There I ran into this super cute boy that I have had a crush on for a couple years. We had one amazing date but nothing since. We run into each other from time to time but it always feels a bit awkward.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that awesome of a date. Maybe it was pretty bad, or as he put it to me that night, “THE WORST DATE EVER”.

Yeah, I suck at dating. I really have no idea how it works. I’ve probably had twelve first dates in my entire life. I can’t remember how many turned into second dates but if it was two I’d be surprised. All of my relationships have been either love at first sight or friends first situations -no dating required.

That’s fine. I don’t need to date. I’m not even sure I’m that good of a boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a good guy and I try hard but there is something to the whole relationship thing that I appear to be missing.

At least I’m a good friend… or so I thought.

Sunday I got a text from close friend saying that she was needing to pull away from me. We had just started to reestablish contact after a year of separation. I guess it was too much or too soon but it made her uncomfortable. “Okay,” I thought, “do what you need to do to take care of yourself.”

On top of that, the most important person in the world to me, except for my children, hasn’t spoken to me in two weeks. I guess everyone needs a break from me from time to time. I get it. I’m kind of intense; I can be a lot to deal with and from time to time I downright suck!

Last week I was having drinks with a friend. He thought my post about the 5 Secrets for a Happy Life was a bit harsh. I responded, “My blog is called Life Sucks, So What?!?“. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that tone is a somewhat harsh.”

His response was that life doesn’t suck, people do. He makes a good point. People do suck. I suck, you suck, we all suck in one way or another at one time or another. I just also see the amazing things that people are capable of doing for one another. For me, the only salvation from this sucky life is in the kindness and generosity of others.

I also have a hard time judging others for how much they suck without being equally judgemental towards myself. But maybe that’s just me. When I see someone doing something that annoys me my first response it to look at myself. More times than not I find myself going, “Oh yeah, I’ve done that.”

One of my pet peeves is when people leave their turn signal on after making a lane change – something I do all the time. I will pull ahead of them and put my turn signal on. They idea is that they will get annoyed with me and then realize that they have their turn signal on. This never works though. The other night I was heading back to the pedicab garage. I was following another driver who just so happened to have his turn signal on. We actually do this all the time. They don’t release like a car turn signal. I was just about to get on the radio to let him know when I realized that I too had my turn signal on. In fact, that is why he had his on. He was signalling to me to turn off my turn signal. I was amazed to learn that someone else actually used this technique. I was also amazed to see it work!

So I suck at dating, I suck at relationships, I suck as a friend and I suck at turning off my turn signal. In the past few days I have managed to piss of a co-worker and the owner’s mom (not a good idea). I suck at just about everything I try to do.

So what? So what do I do?

I do my best and I work everyday, every moment to do better. That is the gift of sucking – there is always room for improvement. Some people appreciate this. In fact a lot of people really like me. More than I probably deserve think that I am amazing. Are they wrong? I don’t think so. I think that I am pretty amazing but even so, sooner or later, I’m going to fuck up, I’m going to do something that rubs you the wrong way, I’m going to piss you off.

I’m going to use that as an opportunity to grow. The question is… are you?

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.

Cruel to be kind

She said, “Just leave the keys on the table and leave! That way if we ever talk again it won’t be some codependent sort of thing.”

That struck a nerve with me. I had been trying to resolve the issue the best I could and I’m pretty good at working through conflict. I didn’t want it to come to this. We had been in this place before, many times before, and it always ends the same. We love each other. We need each other. Not in a co-dependent sort of way, but in a family, love each other no matter what, meant for each other, don’t want to live without each other sort of way.

That’s how I felt. I didn’t want to just give up only to go through hell only to wind up right back in the most amazing friendship I have ever known. I actually didn’t think I could go through it again. I kind of felt like we had been through this enough to the point where we would never have to go through it again. I finally felt safe. I thought these kinds of fights were over. Can I do this again? I have limits. I have needs. I have to know when enough is enough.

So when she said the word, codependent, I thought, “Yeah, I don’t want to be that person.”

I put the keys on the table and left.

I do want to take a side note here and express my annoyance with the term codependent. It might be important for assessing my state of mind.

Codependent is a term that comes straight out of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not bashing on AA. It works for some people and I’m very grateful for that. It worked for me at one point in my life and I am very grateful for all it has tough me. My point is that codependent has a very specific meaning and it has been co-oped to refer to a number of other forms of unhealthy relationships that have nothing to do with addiction or alcohol dependence. It has also been been co-oped to refer to relationships that are not codependent at all but are actually loving interdependent healthy relationships, usually between one or more unhealthy people. By the way, I’ve never met a completely healthy person, only people who pretend to be healthy, which in my mind is pretty fucking sick. Just saying…

I am probably the epitome of what it means to NOT be codependent. If anything I am way too independent but I am trying to change that. I’m a guy who feels totally alone in the world but I think that is stupid. There are far to many lonely people for anyone to need to feel alone. When I find someone that I can connect with in a very real way I embrace that. I don’t want to lose that. I don’t think that is codependency. I think that is healthy. I think that is love.

Love takes trust. I understand that trust is not easy for everyone. I know that people doubt me sometimes. I doubt me a lot. But I never doubt my intentions. Loving me means knowing me well enough to know that I would never mean you harm. When people pull away from me because of something that I did that hurt them I can’t help but consider that there has been a loss of trust.

Before I left my friends apartment she said that she would now know that her privacy wouldn’t be violated. This concerned me. I actually don’t have much concern for privacy myself… obviously. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I did, but I do have concern for her privacy. I asked her if she ever felt like I violated her privacy. She said that she hadn’t and I felt relieved.

I left her apartment and had a smoke on the steps before getting on my bike. Luckily, I was awake enough, sober enough, had enough energy and the weather was nice enough that that 7-8 mile bike ride home was not of life threatening concern – sometimes it is. This was not one of those nights where I was spending the night on her couch because I might die if I didn’t. This was a night where I was planning on spending the night because we really enjoy each other’s company.

So what went wrong?

I can really only speak from my perspective. I do have insight into how my friend was feeling but I don’t think that it is appropriate to speak for anyone but myself. She can comment here or with me directly if she wants. This is my space and I use it to speak my point of view.

We were leaving our final of our four venues for the evening. As we were unlocking our bikes she mentioned that she was made to feel uncomfortable by the looks she got when she was leaving. I asked if it might be her fear that was causing her to feel this way and perhaps not the actions of any individual. I told her that I was actually feeling very safe. This seemed to piss her off as she assured me that she was not afraid. I tried to clarify that I wasn’t saying she was afraid, only that her fear, which we all have, may have been coloring her perception.

Yeah, that didn’t go over very well. I wasn’t being accusatory, I was simply curious. I guess sometimes people don’t want you to ask questions, they just want you to shut the fuck up and listen. I sometimes forget that; sometimes my inquisitive mind gets the best of me.

This time it got me being called a dick. I didn’t think that was appropriate. I don’t like being called names. I told her that I didn’t think that was necessary. I’m really trying to do a better job of standing up for myself when I feel like I am being mistreated. I let a lot of things just roll off my back but I’m not sure that is always helpful.

She said, “Then stop being a dick.”

“Okay”, I though, “if that is the way you want to play…”. And I told her, “Then stop being a bitch!”

I didn’t know how I thought that would help but at this point I didn’t know what would so I figured I would play along. This was met with, “Fine, just go home and leave me alone.”

That may have been a perfectly reasonable solution. I totally could have made it home. I was pretty sure she would have made it home as well. I was more like 10 miles from home but my main concern was about her. In any case, I just felt like we were safer together so I shut the fuck up and we rode the rest of the way back to her place in silence.

Well, except for when I hit a pot hole that knocked my bike lock loose and I had to stop. She stopped too. She waited for me to get myself going again. I though that might have been a good sign that she actually cared about me. I fucking hate that I have any doubts that she actually cares about me. The fact that those thoughts even pass through my head make me feel kind of crazy.

But then I have to wrap my head around this: once we got back to her apartment I told her that what she said hurt me.

She responded, “Good, you should be hurt!”

I simply don’t understand that. I do a lot of fucked up things but I never want to be hurt anyone. I get that I do things that hurt other people but when they let me know I feel sadness, not glee. For anyone who claims to love me to want me to be hurt just confuses the fuck out of me.

As much as I love this song I have never quite understood it’s point.

Having this space to write is very helpful to me. I actually don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t just write about this. Actually, I do. I’ve been through it before and it’s not pretty.

So, I could really use your help. If you have any insight or commiseration I would love to know what other people think. I really want to know what my friend is thinking but in the meantime I want to use this time to connect with you. I think this is a very human experience and I would like it to enhance me rather than defeat me. My hope is that through my pain we can make the world a better place, together.

Unforgettable days

Six days ago I finally wrote about my day which occurred twelve days ago. I still have not written about the day which followed, the Sunday, the day that is now eleven days history. I have not been putting it off because I am reluctant to write about that day. I have put it off because as time goes by I am worried more about losing the memories of the recent past. That day will forever be etched in my memory. It doesn’t matter when I write about it, it will feel as fresh as yesterday.

You see, that was the day I saved a best friend’s life.

The day before had been spent helping her move into her boyfriends house. It was a big day, an emotional day, an exhausting day. At the end she went to bed but the rest of us stayed up partying. At six or so in the morning she woke up to find us all still awake and hanging out in the kitchen.

She was understandably pretty annoyed with this. I can’t speak to her exact state of mind but I have a feeling she was upset with her boyfriend for inviting people back to his parent’s house and for not going to bed with her.

I wasn’t paying much attention to her arrival at the party but then she collapsed  She has epilepsy and was having a seizure. Her boyfriend and I rushed in to help her safely to the ground where she lay motionless in his lap.  A couple minutes past and she was not showing any signs of coming out of it. I have probably seen her have more seizures than anyone and I could tell this one was different.

I asked someone to call 911, someone who knew where the home phone was, or at least someone with a local number. The ambulance arrived in fairly short order and I met them at the door. I explained the situation and they went to work. The standard protocol is to administer a heavy dose of diazepam. I assume that they did that but it wasn’t working. I heard them say, “We are loosing her”. They cleared everyone out of the kitchen and I broke into tears.

People die from seizures.  In fact, as many people die each year from seizure disorders as from breast cancer. We had already lost one friend with epilepsy in the past year, I could not bare losing another, especially not one of my very best friends.

They loaded her into the ambulance to get her to the hospital. My adrenaline was racing. One of the party guests was pregnant and wasn’t drinking. We made plans to drive her boyfriend and me to the hospital.

—-

They next thing I knew I was waking up on the couch in the living room. My energy had finally given out and I had collapsed.  I had no recollection of falling asleep and now I was alone in this huge house out in the woods. I was alone, trying to get a hold of anyone I could but to no avail. I was alone in a state of panic for two hours before the boyfriend and his mother returned.

The boyfriend had not slept at all and was wiped out. I helped him move my friend’s couch into the basement and then his mother drove me back to my van. I got in my van and headed to the hospital to see my friend, but realizing that this would take me past my friend Scott Harold’s house, I gave him a call.

Scott Harold is the founder and CEO of the non-profit I will forever be tied to called, Rock The Cause. For the longest time I was considered the “moral compass” of the organization. I saw my role as that of preventing the organization from “selling out” to corporate interests. As the organization grew, their need for corporate collaboration became inevitable. I saw my role as an anchor turn into just a drag. I still have my doubts about some of the partnerships that have been made but I have no doubts about the good work they are doing.

For the past many months, Rock The Cause have been working with Zach Sobiech, a 17 year old singer/songwriter who is dying of osteosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that is expected to take his life within months. His story and his music are so incredibly; it moved me to tears to hear Scott tell me about him. I’m in tears now as I am writing about this. If his life does not embody the meaning of “Life Sucks, So What?” then I don’t know what does.

And then on to the hospital to see my friend who nearly died from epilepsy. I was grateful to find her no longer nearly dying. In fact, she was bitching about the food and how this hospital sucked compared to her last one. This may not have been any comfort to her in the moment but it was of great comfort to me. She was actually a pretty difficult patient but I wanted her to know that I still loved her. After spending a good hour or so with her I offered to buy her a coffee and told her that I would check in with her the next day.

Then I needed to get a drink. I had potential plans with this guy but he was not available so I called the woman I had not bought a drink for earlier in the week. She met me at the 19 bar. I explained how not buying her a drink went against my core values. We talked about honesty. We talked about lying. We talked about sex. We talked about all sorts of things until my bff showed up.

After bar close we went back to my bff’s place. We all got comfortable and after some heated discussions about poverty my bff passed out in her bed. My other friend and I were left alone on her couch. We began exploring each other’s bodies. There is much excitement to be found in another person’s body. That is something I haven’t had enough of lately. I just can’t tell you how much I missed feeling a cock in my mouth.

Moving connections

I’ve been struggling all week trying to write about what happened last weekend. It finally dawned on me that I was making it way more difficult than I needed to. I wanted to capture the transformative nature of the weekend but that is not really necessary  The nature of transformation is that it sticks with you and it continues to change. In other words, there will be plenty of time to write about all that.

What I need to capture is just the events as they occurred and my feelings, thoughts and state of mind in that moment.

If I just gave you the events, it would sound something like this:

I spent Saturday afternoon helping one of my closest friends move out of Minneapolis into her boyfriend’s house in Oakdale. It took two trips filling my van and a pickup each time.

Afterwards we had diner at The Green Room in Stillwater and drank wine from a vineyard the couple had visited in SLO California when they were there over new years.

After that we went to meet the boyfriend’s dad at a karaoke bar across the river. We drank beer, eat peanuts and talked about everything under the sun. The boyfriend did an amazing job singing The Piano has been Drinking by Tom Waits.

After the bar closed a group of us returned to the boyfriend’s parents house to hang out. We drank and talked, I played the piano for a bit, and we partied ’til the sun came up.

Boring! I mean the day was in no way boring but what made it exciting was not the things I did, it was the connections with other people that made it meaningful. The events alone make it no different than any weekend in my life. What makes my life special are the people involved.

I was so grateful to be asked to participate in this move. I love helping people move and I’m pretty damn good at it by now. Moving is a major life change and I feel very privileged to be part of these monumental events. As I was helping my friend move I hearkened back to the last time I helped someone with a move out of this residence. That was a much more solemn life change filled with negativity and destruction. This time had it’s share of negativity but it felt like a move forward. It felt like growth and new opportunity.

What was so special about being asked this time was that they didn’t need to ask. I’m not talking about not needing to ask because I would help regardless, like I already had it on my calendar – which I did. No, I mean not needing to ask because they didn’t really need my help. I’m sure that the boyfriend could have just hired movers and have been done with it but he didn’t. They took the risk and asked for help. I find that noble.

My brother-in-law once said, “any problem that can be solved with money is not a problem”. I like that. I believe that. By the way, I think that poverty is a problem that can be solved with money, but that is clearly outside the scope of what I am trying to accomplish with this entry.

My point is that the boyfriend could have simply solved this problem with money. I’m sure he’s got it. He drives a brand new Lexus, works for his dad’s company which from what I could tell is doing perfectly well. His parent’s house reminded me a lot of my dream house which I have created in my head just in case I wind up rich. Their’s might actually might be a little bit bigger and I’m sure it’s not their only house. Surface it to say, they have more money than most of my artist friends.

… but not all. I feel very fortunate to have friends at all levels of the socioeconomic scale. It’s all part of my love of diversity thing. I believe it takes all types to make the world go round. I just don’t like it when some people are valued more than others. I grew up in a middle-class family that struggled financially at times. Nowadays, my parents could be considered rich I guess. Saturday I was asked how I define rich and I responded, “if you have so much money that you need to pay someone to spend it for you, I would consider you rich”. My parents do that on occasion.

Me? I’m pretty fucking poor. Most of my friends are poor. It might just be that our economy is totally fucked up. I mean most people are pretty poor and this is the richest nation in the world, right? Per capita, we are number seven but again, I’m getting beyond the scope of this post.

What I am saying is, regardless of your income, race, sex, disability or any other way we want to categorize people, we are all human. We all have the same human limitations. We all need to eat, sleep and shit. We are all constrained by only having 24 hours to each day. We all get older and we will all one day die. In that, we are all the same.

Money cannot buy friendship, not real friendship, certainly not my friendship. That’s why I was asked to help with the move; to build friendship. I was asked to be part of a meaningful life event not because my help was necessary, but because I was wanted. That means the fucking world to me!

They didn’t get off cheap either. I think I only bought one beer all night and I can drink! The boyfriend covered my gas and took me out for a really nice diner. You know what? Hiring movers would probably have been cheaper.

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