I meant to do that

I’ve mentioned a few times that I had an ulterior motive when I started this blog but I’ve been pretty coy about stating exactly what that motive was. By keeping my intentions secret I have preserved the ability to reframe my goals at anytime and turn what could have been seen as a failure into a success. Like Pee-wee Herman I could announce at anytime that, “I meant to do that!”

When I started I had no idea how things would turn out. I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t know whether I was documenting my success or my failure. At this point I can unequivocally state that I have failed at meeting my goals, BUT there have been many unintended successes for which I am more than happy to take credit. It’s time to take credit for the failure as well.

It began with a dream… a dream of shedding most of my worldly possessions, including my house, and living a nomadic life.  I wanted and needed a simpler life which focused on what is really important to me and that is connecting with people. After taking inventory of my skills and assets I devised a plan to travel around the country, by bicycle, sharing my gifts and avoiding the harsh Minnesota winters. It seemed like a crazy plan but I’ve managed to pull off some pretty crazy things in my life and as I started talking to more people about it, people who knew me, the less crazy it seemed. I just knew I couldn’t do it alone. I was going to need more people along for the ride. A blog, if successful, would allow me to connect with people all over the country and provide a vehicle to share my adventure for survival giving it meaning and purpose.

In fact, creating a blog had been on my to-do list for years but now it no longer felt like an option. Now it was a priority. Now it was a means to an end. Now I had a plan, a vision; but I still had no idea how to achieve it or even if I could. I just knew that I had to start regardless. All I could do was take the next step and see what happened. That process is pretty well documented in this blog.

What I discovered was that writing a successful blog takes a lot of work. I guess that wasn’t really a discovery. I knew it would be a lot of work. I actually had a pretty clear idea of what it would take but I had plenty of time on my hands and figured I would muddle through it until I got it right. I figured a year was enough time to make something happen.

It probably would have been if I was focused and dedicated. I have achieved a lot in my life but it has come either through some level of deep obsession or a great deal of time. The older I get the harder it is for me to get that obsessed about anything but it has also given me more perspective when it comes to the concept of time. There are just too many things in the world which I find meaningful and purposeful that it may take a lifetime to achieve even my top five. I just can’t do everything; at least not right now, but to be honest, the distractions I’ve had over the past year or so have been well worth it.

Well… most of them.

As much as I hate to admit it, dealing with multiple chronic illnesses on a daily basis has also been a factor in my failure to meet my goals. This is not the life I had envisioned for myself but it is my reality. Denial doesn’t change anything. I refuse to use my so-called disabilities as an excuse for not achieving greatness but I may need to re-examine my definition of greatness. We’ve all been inspired by the achievements of successful people with disabilities. There is no reason why I can’t be my own inspiration.

So my blog didn’t turn out as planned. I have gotten rid of nearly nothing. I still own my home and I’m not leaving this state until my daughter graduates from high school.  For some reason none of that really feels like a failure. I still have a blog. I still have more stuff than I need. I have a home and I have a daughter that loves and needs me. Maybe failure isn’t so bad. Maybe it’s only failure if it feels like failure.

The only thing that has happened in the past year that makes me feel like a failure is the loss of my best friend. She was my one true obsession and in the end it was that obsession which killed the friendship.

But through death there comes rebirth.

In my effort to come to terms with how I could lose a friend who I honestly believed was forever I discovered this blog post by Kenneth Justice, The Culture Monk. I began reading his blog every day and quickly discovered that we had started our blogs at the same time and were writing about the same issues albeit in from different perspectives and in very different styles. In my opinion, he’s a much better writer than I am. There is a structure and flow to his writing that I may never achieve; even if I wanted to. We probably started with the same level of effort and dedication but with different skills. That, and he is far more consistent than I am. Consistency has never been my strong suit.

What I found really ironic was when he started writing about fame and celebrity. He was taking issue with our cultural obsession with fame and celebrity which I totally understand. I just found it ironic because he had achieved the level of notoriety that I was seeking in order to make my dreams come true. Let’s face it, celebrity and popularity are necessary evils in the entertainment business. Seeking celebrity seems a bit crazy to me but so is the entertainment business.

What didn’t surprise me was that after a year of writing his blog, Kenneth Justice decided to set out on a worldwide tour to connect with his readers. Basically, he was achieving my goal albeit in from a different perspective and in a very different style. He is living my dream. When he came to Minneapolis last month I was able to meet him, drive him around, show him my city and give him a place to stay. I was able to see my dream come true, even if it was being carried out by another person. I could be bitter but instead I have a new friend. I hope that you will read his blog and I hope that you will take the opportunity to meet him if he comes to your town.

I began last year with a plan; I failed but I found success. As I look back now I realize that I’m still here, I’m still me and I’m not alone. Ultimately, that is all I have ever wanted to achieve.


Minneapolis, mn

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

No bad days

It’s been a while since I have posted anything. In part that has been for lack of time but mostly it has been lack of desire. I just haven’t felt like writing and I kind of do what I want to do. It’s not like I have a lot of wants and I’ve actually been working on reducing the ones I have. That said, I can’t think of anything that I would rather be doing right now.

You see, for the past four days I have been is Los Cabos, Mexico. While back home in Minneapolis, MN people are getting pelted with a snow storm, I’m basking in the sun of 80 degree days. As I’m writing this it’s nighttime but I’m sitting quite comfortably in shorts by the pool drinking cerveza. I don’t need anything more than this.

Obviously, I did bring my laptop to Mexico but I probably won’t be posting much. I don’t know if it was subconscious or completely by accident but I forgot to pack the power cord for my computer so I only have six hours of battery life. To be honest, that’s about all the time I want to spend online.

My reason for being here is not a much needed vacation. I really don’t need vacations. I’m here to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday which was today. He and my mother have been coming down here every winter for the past decade or so and this year they wanted to have the whole family with them to celebrate.

There is no way that I could afford to do what they do every winter but this is the life. My whole time here I have been trying to figure out how I could make this my part time home. It’s not the hotel or the swimming pool or the fancy dinners that interest me. It’s just the sun, the warmth and the people. I’m actually finding being a tourist and having everything taken care of for me a bit unsettling. I really want to be working here.

I’m going to enjoy this time off and I hope that I return to the States rejuvenated and ready to get to work on my dream of never spending another winter in Minnesota.

The first day of the rest of my life

Yesterday was the start of something new. There was no fanfare or ribbon-cutting ceremony but it did mark the day that I turned my focus to the future. Even so, it turned out to be not much different than any other day. Thomas Dolby being in town was not the distraction I feared it would be. I just kept doing the next thing and going to a concert never became one of them. I did still find plenty of things to distraction me.

I spent a good deal of time poking around facebook and reading various blogs. I’ve really been enjoying Kenneth Justice’s blog The Culture Monk and Lauren Cropper’s Between Fear and Love. I spent a little too much time watching TV shows on Netflix. I’ve started watching the BBC series, Sherlock. It’s a great stand-in while waiting for Doctor Who to return. Sometimes it’s hard for me to sit down and watch an hour and a half long drama so I’ve also been watching the sitcom, Don’t Trust the B—– in Apt. 23. Funny, but for some reason I can watch four episodes in a row of that show. I think it reminds me of some of my friends.

I did do some things that were a little more productive. I did some dishes, laundry and took care of some accounting work. I spent an hour playing guitar which was inspiring. I also managed to vote, the only thing I absolutely had to do yesterday.

So far my activities have been of the maintenance variety. These are the things that just allow me to keep treading water but don’t actually move me forward. That may just be the way things go for a while but eventually that won’t be enough to keep me busy. I will be forced to make progress because I won’t have anywhere else to go.

For me, this is where self-motivation comes from. Deadlines are good but boredom and passion are better. I’m a great procrastinator but eventually I run out of distractions and nothing left to do but everything I have to do. It’s in that moment that shit starts happening. The only time I ever get anything done is “right now”.

I have my goals and dreams but there is no clear path as to how to get there. I will keep documenting progress on my goals but I’m reluctant to specifically identify what they are. Maybe I will, but for now I will hesitate. I know that my goals will change over time. I know that I will change over time and I know that when I finally achieve my goals that it won’t look anything like I currently imagine.

Most people wait until after they have accomplished something great to write about it. Then they can look back and say, “that’s how it’s done”. But that’s not how its done. Goals are achieved in the moment. That’s why I’m writing about this as I go. To me, the process is more important than the goal.

It’s already not going as planned or as expected. I expected that I would be spending these first two weeks of November unable to do anything. I expected that I would find the road ahead so overwhelming that I would slip into a deep depression.  I figured that might take up to two weeks but eventually I would either give up and quit or I would decide that killing myself was not an option and that I had no choice but to move forward.

Instead I had my break-down / break-through / spiritual awakening two weeks ago. While it was nothing like I imagined it would be, it might be fair to say that I am two weeks ahead of schedule. In truth, I am still now and always will be right on time.

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!

Today’s ambitions

Today was my day to get shit done. I always say it’s good to have goals. You can’t get anything done with out them. I also say it’s good not to be too specific because things rarely ever go as planned.

I had plans to hang out with a friend last night. I figured we would just chill for a bit, watch some TV, drink a glass of wine or two and I would get home at a decent hour, get up early and get to work. I don’t know why I thought that. That is not the way things go with this particular friend. She is one of my very best friends and I haven’t seen her much of her lately since she has been spending most of her time in the Suburbs with her new boyfriend  – you know how those things goes. Then when I learned that she had a box of wine and was planning on getting drunk with me it became clear that I would be spending the night.

SIDENOTE: If you have been following this blog, or if you continue to follow this blog, keeping up with my friends may seem like an impossible task. That is by design. My friends and family are the most important parts of my life. I need to write about them but they have not signed up for this so I will not name them. I can’t guarantee anonymity but I can at least offer plausible deniability.

I have many people whom I consider my best friends. These are a combination of people that have been in my life for many, many years as well as people that are very active in my life right now and trust will always by part of my life. They are people that I talk to every day or so as well as people that have moved away or moved on to other activities and I might might only talk to once a month or even less. Still, I know that if I ever needed them, they would always be there for me, as I would be there for them. They are people where no matter how long it has been since we last talked, we can pick up the phone and continue the friendship as if we saw each other yesterday.

Throughout my life I have had, maybe, twelve people who fit this description. Some inevitably decide to leave, new people enter my life and sometimes old friends return. At any given time there have never been more than six. This seems like all I can handle at one time. My hope is that as more time passes, as I become a better person and as my relationships grow stronger, I will be able to handle more. But maybe not, best friends are a lot of work sometimes.

Last night was wonderful, and worthy of sacrificing today’s ambitions. Knowing that someone knows the real you, and loves you anyway, is the greatest feeling in the world. I got to feel that twice last night. At 2:04 am another best friend called me up just to tell me that she loves me. She was expecting to leave a message but I was still up. I guess we must have stayed up until close to 4 am.

I woke up this morning by 10 am. I made coffee and had a cigarette, then I woke up my friend. I helped her haul some stuff up from the basement then I needed to get home. My van was covered in snow which was still falling and continued to fall all day. I got home and shoveled my sidewalk. I still felt like I could get everything done so I headed in to get to work.

I pulled out my laptop, set it up on my kitchen counter, put a pot of water on the stove for coffee, gathered up my mail, checked Facebook on the computer in my bedroom and then wondered… where is my coffee?

Oh shit! I left a pot of bowling water on the stove! This is not the first time this has happened. If you have ADD you probably know this experience. I don’t, but I’m a Type A personality with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so I can relate to a lot of the struggles faced by people with ADD. Actually, being Type A is probably why I have CFS, and as a result, why I’m an less Type A than I was before getting sick.

I ran back to my kitchen to find the pot on the stove, bone dry and smoldering. This is not a good idea when using a Teflon. Apparently you can get Teflon poisoning from overheating. I washed out the pan and boiled fresh water and made my coffee. I had a few sips but it still tasted burnt.

Shortly thereafter I started having flu symptoms. I laid down but I couldn’t sleep. I decided to watch House of Cards on Netflix. It’s pretty good. I’m not a big TV fan but I do find that I like non-commercial television… and shows that get canceled within the first three years because they don’t make any money. Last night I was introduced to Shameless which is a Showtime remake of the British show which I have seen. I think I like the people in that show better than the people in House of Cards but they are all pretty fucked up. BTW, fucked up is very endearing to me.

So that was my day; not as productive as I hoped, but there is always Monday. I am feeling better. Actually, I’m feeling kind of drunk but that is a result of alcohol poisoning, which in my opinion, is better than Teflon poisoning.



Tomorrow I’m going to see Testament at First Avenue with my bff, her sister and her sister’s boyfriend. This will be my big night out thanks to the gift I received Tuesday.

Sunday I have tickets to Other Desert Cities at the Guthrie Theater. I asked a cute boy to go with me but he is at a conference at the college my son attends and doesn’t know if he will be back in time. I may be scrambling to get a date at the last minute.

Yeah, Monday will be my day to get shit done. Let’s see how that goes 😉

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