Alcohol: Fun with a Loaded Gun

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What most of my 20’s looked like. Photo courtesy drunken me.

You’d think that a porky tumor in my liver may have detoured me from partaking in a few pints of beer. Or that chemotherapy biweekly for an entire year…yes, an ENTIRE YEAR filled with endless rounds of throwing up might have given me my fill of poisoning my body…that even smelling alcohol would bring about nausea. And you are right. I went a whole year without going for that fuzzy buzz. But then, like a dirty-rotten friend, it called again. To “celebrate” my making it through one whole year of chemo, I went out for a “few drinks” (4 pints of beer) to the local bar a few months back. I was alone (nowadays, I prefer it that way), yet was friendly and amicable to other fellow lost souls I met that night. I went there, head freshly shorn (one of a sea of side effects I shrug off) just as some kid that had recently graduated from some hellish boot camp. I’d gotten used to the Mad Max look on myself after my 26th chemo round. For the most part, I had a good time that night, at least, I thought.

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Me in 2005. I was buzzed when they took this picture. Not a good way to convince that cop that pulls you over that you really aren’t a drunk.

The next morning, I woke up cotton-mouthed, eyes dry and heavy… but, this was my usual chemo effects. My husband, who usually ignored my movements and activities surprised me by sternly asking  if I had any recollection of coming home the night before. Of course I did, I answered casually: drove home, unhinged the old bra, then…well, it was kinda foggy in mind after that. I noticed the bruise and rug-burn on my left elbow. No biggie…had ’em many times. Can’t be any worse than bleeding out my ass which is how I found the first cancerous tumor a few years back, I reasoned. But, then I saw my husband’s expression: a mix of frustration, concern, anger, and disappointment. Slowly, I began to recall the mood I hurled around the house the night before. RAGE, UGLY RAGE, the kind that gets high on itself as evil gets high on inflicting pain and sorrow. I thank GOD my 13 yr old son was asleep at the time (one o’clock in the morning) and didn’t see it. I’m 41 years old. At what fucking point will I grow up????

Who would have imagined that this beast would initiate my sobriety. Colon cancer tumor, 2011. Photo courtesy my doctor.

Who would have imagined that this beast would initiate my sobriety? Well, kinda. Colon cancer tumor, 2011. Photo courtesy my doctor.

People may say I’m justified. You’re going through some serious life-altering, soap opera shit right now, I can hear the sappy Freud in me say. Is that an excuse? Blame it on the barking dog, or the stressful job, or the lover who left you. BULL!!!Whatever, but lets go back in time a bit.

In my 20’s, I did the usual drinking and partying every weekend with friends, lovers, strangers, dangers. Whatever. Same old, SAMO (yawn). Wasted time, wasted money….yes my 20’s were pretty much spent wasted. During those college years, I’d do my homework in bars, drink in hand. I’d meet my boyfriends there. I’d do my “therapy” there too, I claimed. Drinking was “fun”. Drunks were “funny”. Dying was a place far away, only heroin addicts and old people went there. At one point, at age 24, I twice (accidently?) overdosed on a combination of prescription drugs (Valium and Zoloft) and alcohol when I was single and living in San Francisco. By the third time, my parents drove up to Frisco to save my sorry ass by taking me back “home” to San Diego. But I didn’t change my ways much there either. Neither of my folks drank, being practicing Christians, so I couldn’t play that trick card that says Well, I picked up the habit watching my alcoholic parents or I inherited the drink gene. WHAT A DAMN CANARD!!!!!!

Me at age ten, seated in center on right near fireplace. Not a picture perfect family, but at least my folks didn't drink or abuse me. So what's my excuse???

Me at age ten, seated in center on right near fireplace. Not a picture perfect family, but at least my folks didn’t drink or abuse me. So what’s my excuse???

In my 20’s and early 30’s, drinking was “cute”. I have family members and friends who still think this way and I know their views won’t change, sad to say. But a bloated belly, a fat liver, a DUI, a habit of hangovers, chronic depression, and fights fueled with alcohol at age 40 and older don’t look very “cute”  or “funny” anymore, do they? And that is only the beginning of what habitual drinking does. What it does to a family, that’s a whole miniseries in itself.

Fast forward to my late 30’s. After being together for ten years,  my husband and I separated. This marital purgatory lasted a long, dragged-out 3 years. I blamed our separation on his alcoholism (how it isolated him from me, how it drove me to drink…blah blah) is what I’d claim. Though this was partly true, it was a muse for an excuse to act out like I did in my 20’s. But when the reality of having stage IV cancer came to me in 2013, I needed to rebuild bridges, NOT burn them. We reconciled and are truly the closest we have ever been. But it was my concern for my spouse that got me off my pride horse. It was nights (starting a few months ago) listening to him practically choking on his vomit or acids from binging the hours before that woke me up to the darkness that comes with alcoholism. I’d shake him or try to push him over on his side to get him to clear his throat just so. He, all the while, still in a sleeping stupor, either unaware or too drunk to awaken.  In the morning, off he went to work, functioning somehow, but definitely not happy. That was me just a year before, hung over at my job. No, my spouse has never physically nor verbally abused me nor our son in his drinking spells. No DUI’s, no lost jobs, no police at our home. But watching his body change (belly), his health affected due to that evening drink to relax his nerves makes me sad, very sad, and scared as hell for him. It was the first time I actually sought AL-ANON. I knew I had to face the realities of my own struggles.

How many times did Amy Winehouse choke on her vomit during sleep before getting help? Death won't let you know.

How many times did Amy Winehouse choke on her vomit during sleep before getting help? Death won’t let us know.

I have gently informed my husband of these moments when his drinking has altered his sleep. And no, that hasn’t changed his habits, which I wasn’t surprised by. I know a person has to want to change themselves for it to happen. I leave him be. But the incidents prompted me to see how EASY our minds are twisted into thinking that we need a life with alcohol to “have fun” or “be fun” or sickly, to “function normally”. Can we remember back to when we were kids, when we could just be happy at will? When we could cry or get angry or be silly naturally? Why do we need fucking booze to be our “self”…our REAL SELF??? So I see now how a life liberated from depending on some “thing” (poison, literally) outside myself in order to feel is just that: LIBERATING. It is not a criticism nor a judgment… it is a fact. Imagine, letting yourself be. Drinking is a coward’s tool to face life and its spectrum of emotions. A pussy’s poison!! I’m done with being a coward.  I prefer to stare down reality, no matter how evil, painful, or cold…AND believe me, I have seen a lot. And I hear all the excuses that come with drinking and drugging (cultural tradition, family sanctioned, functioning alcoholism). I lived them too. Lies from non-thinking minds. The habit is like playing around with a gun and saying “I’m just having a little fun”. At some point, you’ll fire that loaded weapon without control, and god only knows where the bullets will fly. Nowadays, metaphorically, I have laid down my guns. I prefer the sober asshole in me to the excuse-filled crying, depressive drunk of my old self. If you need help, get it, its out there, even in cyberspace. Step into a life of liberation, of clear thinking, of BRAVERY, of real happiness.

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The following is a poem dedicated to my sister Pam, one of the bravest people I know, who has been living drug-free now for over a decade. I’m proud to be your sis. And, no, drinking does NOT make art…people do.

Alcohol

Good old Al‒

The fun gun at the party holding up the empty barrel to the big pussy rejecting the poison‒

His acidic eyes forever burning brightness into black.

Yeah, I’ll drink to that.

Not a holy black or

Halloween out of the trick-bag black,

more so, the absence of anything.

If only he knew.

He’s the original crash test dummy.

Calendars mark him by the day.

His truths read fiction.

People are his piñatas.

He is wanted in every state.

He’s the most interesting scam in the world.

No one expected to find him bleeding-out the laughter

to carry tradition into a sad-ass-sorry song.

Yeah right…

You know it;

The oceans of lies that flow through father to daughters

and mothers to sons.

You know the tune,

the one with bridges to cross

or jump from.

You know it.

Your other-half sang it with medicinal moderation

between loveless kisses and fake lullabies.

Oh, the muse for excuse‒

Don’t mind me, I won’t mind you,

the coward’s fuel.

It’s the season for creating

artists and avalanches and arsenals of thought,

here fermenting,

drowning proof.

Cheap, cheap,

goes the songbird.

Hear here my dear;

Do you ache to numb your ear?

That fist-shot of furry

you welcome by the dime.

Diluting the hour,

same ol’ cliché,

bitching louder,

bitching louder,

killing time.

You’ve struck the pain;

Give yourself a hand.

It comes lose for self-abuse.

Relax now,

it’s just a joke.

I saw it brewing with your name,

knocking down the judgmental ghost.

Approving, disapproving‒

both imposters just the same,

running home‒

striking out‒

crying foul‒

we play the sobering game.

And the risk is sweet,

yes,

risk is dumb-luck’s falling star,

the child’s magic marker

for an angel or a devil’s scar.

A moment to act out;

A reason to be careful with who you are.

But, can you recall that floating carpet

where feelings weren’t yet fenced-in

and happiness was a piss-warm cup you drank from?

A talisman for tasting your soul,

you suckle the danger.

Bitterly tender,

heart still heaving,

you raise the weapon and swallow it whole.

Paint Me a Poem: The Preoccupations of an Ex-President

Painting by George W. Bush. Hair by hell!

Painting by George W. Bush. Hair by hell!

What do presidents do when they get out of office? What else but paint! As I was thumbing through the pages of a recent article in Architectural Digest, I was amused to see that our ex-President George W. Bush was working the old muse.

Bush family room outside Waco, Texas. This is where all the magic happens folks.

Bush family room outside Waco, Texas. This is where all the magic happens folks.

What was more surprising is that he jump started my muse! Since I have been writing my next collection of poetry entitled “The Black Chamber”, what would be more fitting for the book than the lonely hours of an ex-President?

The master at his easel.

The master at his easel.

 

Tony Blair

Tony Blair

 

A few of GWB's paintings exhibited.

A few of GWB’s paintings exhibited.

 

 

Mr. Bush Paints

 

Just outside of Waco,

where the sun drips gold,

you’ll find still lives,

a kangaroo’s opera of “ordinary”.

Trees,

pets,

and portraits of world leaders…

the typical genres (not all half bad)

done on an easel

in the enclosed breezeway of a family room.

A fire engine of a phone at his elbow,

a Castro’s call away from plots and political proclamations

come these plein air imaginings.

Sneeze,

and the sky bends.

Laugh,

and the ocean solidifies.

Cry,

and the whole earth turns purple.

Think,

and attack the open end of a blank canvas.

The crescent moon of his mind envisioning

“a new world order”

out of vermillion hues and ultramarine blues.

The dead horsehairs of his paintbrush

shaping a house to fit into a landscape.

Layering his universes;

Contriving and controlling

as a cowhand of craft.

Minimizing fortune

in the natural frontier,

he executes with his own prosimian hand.

Maximizing his truancy of time,

expanding peace

as though it were some new design…

he stylizes simplicity as a hiccup

for tomorrow’s colorful crows.

Next month,

his pieces will be exhibited on walls

where seminary students go wandering,

contemplating all of God’s wonders,

waxing over the artistic strokes as mime.

Fear and Loathing in Chemoland

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Chemotherapy…the art of beating up your cells ’til they sting you back like tiny jellyfish. Since my diagnosis with stage four metastatic colon cancer in November 2013, I have been the lucky recipient of this “therapy”. Nine rounds down with three more to go.

 

I got so sick of cleaning up the shower drain from all the hair I lost, I took the scissors and cut my long hair off. But why the heck didn't this chemo make hair fall out from other hidden places. UGH!

I got so sick of cleaning up the shower drain from all the hair I lost, I took the scissors and cut my long hair off. But why the heck didn’t this chemo make hair fall out from other hidden places. UGH!

Chemotherapy is everything and nothing like they tell you it is. The typical stuff happens: hair loss, bleeding gums, upset stomach, constipation, fatigue that could bring Speedy Gonzales to his knees. But then you start thinking you are a walking lab rat once your asshole is bleeding, the joints of your fingers “lock up”,  head is chemo-lagged, your hands and feet swell and “darken”, you don’t get a menstrual period anymore, brown spots ravage your face, and anything you eat or taste that is too hot, cold, acidic, spicy, or sweet around the week of treatment goes down your throat feeling as though you are a first time sword swallower. Blah blah blah, yeh, basically it sucks, for a good cause, that is. Sometimes you need the devil to cast the devil out.

Neulasta, what I shoot myself in the stomach biweekly to keep my immune system intact. Good practice of future heroin connoisseurs.

Neulasta, what I shoot myself in the stomache biweekly to keep my immune system intact. Good practice of future heroin connoisseurs.

So it’s no surprise that chemo isn’t exactly a trip to Paris.  What does boggle my mind is why infusion treatment centers (at least the one’s I have known) don’t have a more pleasurable environment while a patient is getting treated. The average treatment requires a patient to sit in a chair and wait for a cocktail of chemo to drip at a snail’s pace into your veins for hours at a time. I’ve had more entertaining moments at the DMV watching weirdos come and go in the waiting area. You could very well be on the last leg of your life, yet medical centers are hell-bent on saving some extra dollars to make chemo the misery that it is. The following are some suggestions on how to improve chemo treatment centers.

A typical boring chemo infusion center. Note the bellydancers...NOT.

A typical boring chemo infusion center. Note the bellydancers…NOT.

1) Floating Masseuse. Why not have your feet or hands massaged with cocoa butter or spring lavender oil? Better yet, why not make them floating comic masseuses? Nothing like a good laugh while someone is slipping through your toe cheese.

2) Chairs with personal television screens. This is a no brainer! Have Netflix already logged onto them. Have a DVD player and a good set of earphones. Hell, have a dancing monkey perform the Nutcracker in a cut out cardboard box for all I care. Give me something to look at other than the hairy mole on some nurse’s face.

3) Beds. Ok now, we have cancer. I think its ok to let us lay on an actual bed since treatment usually lasts hours and the medication they give us for anti-nausea makes chemo patients sleepy. If they gave my dad a bed for a minor case of a spider bite, I doubt its overkill (no pun intended) to give someone with stage four cancer a descent cot for a couple of hours. Flannel sheets please!

DON"T WAIT 'TIL AGE 50! Get a screening done anytime you see blood in your poop! Might save your life.

DON”T WAIT ‘TIL AGE 50! Get a screening done anytime you see blood in your poop! Might save your life.

4) Classes for Personal Enrichment. Not everyone will want this, but some people would think it a cool idea to spark new life into a patient. Have certain rooms of the center to gather for classes in jewelry making, beer brewing, or becoming a phony-baloney psychic.  At this point, I would even take a class on installing solar panels on a lawn mower if I can avoid all the times I  looked over at the clock.

5) A Minion. That’s right…someone to do a run for me down to Subway since treatment centers don’t feed you.  Someone to lug all my crap to my treatment chair: Books to read, snacks, writing paper and pen, laptop, thigh master, yoga pillow, lucky coonskin hat, bowling jacket since none of these things are available to you at the hospital. Someone to fill out all the insurance, hospital, and workers disability forms when starting that dive into red tape. Someone to hug. Someone to smack around. Someone who will get out of your face and not take it personally if you tell them to.  Some people would assign this role to a family member or trusted friend. I prefer to select someone anonymous to not take my shifting moods seriously…plus I prefer someone better looking!

Resourceful and quick on his feet. My minion of choice is Christiano Ronaldo.

Resourceful and quick on his feet, my minion of choice is Christiano Ronaldo.

So there you have it. Five suggestions to take chemotherapy infusions to another level of healing. Five things that will take me away from writing any more horrible limericks (as the one below), the only entertainment I seem to have at chemo treatments today.

There once was a patient quite sick

who’s treatment was that of a trick;

He paid through the nose,

before the scheme was exposed

that they had amputated his dick.

 

Cancer and Rocking in a Free World

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Damn it, I might as well have smoked those cigarettes I was told would cause cancer. I can still hear my mom exclaiming in Español, “Look at that dummy sucking on the devil’s tail!” All my teenage mind could think about was how much I wish it was me. Now I know I missed out on the nicotine highs and still ended up with the big “C” spread throughout my lungs. Welcome to stage 4 of metastatic colon cancer.

After having a camera shoved down my throat a week ago today and a chunks of my lungs fished and carved out of yours truly, I finally got the results of the biopsy. More on that later. The procedure itself involved GPS tracking through my chest, a team of three young doctors, a giant Willie Wonka digital clock that only told you military time, four humorous assistants, and a clueless 39 yr old woman with a major wedgie (that would be me). Who would have thought that annoying Garmin lady that talks back to you in the car would be guiding doctors through my lungs? I can hear her now: “At heart, turn left.” I won’t doubt doctors ended up in the South Pole due to bad directions like all the rest of the GPS systems tend to do, or is that just my luck? I had been wondering why my hemorrhoids seemed to have flared up that evening. Maybe a wrong turn down the old pike (wink)?

Bronchoscopy...No salmon fishing here!

Bronchoscopy…No salmon fishing here!

So the staff themselves at Balboa Hospital (officially called Naval Medical Center San Diego) knew their stuff. One girl put the monitoring stickies all over my chest (thanks Jen). Another guy got my I.V. going (I still have the sink hole). One other was there for observation or possibly freak entertainment. And my nurse, Michelle (Dr. Feel-good), was the one to administer the good stuff…sedation (aka the Michael Jackson Sleeping Potion). So before I turned into a beaner version of sleeping beauty, minus the beauty, all three of my male doctors walked up to where I was laying. Dr. Powers was the Josh Hartnett look a like (you know, the actor from the film “Pearl Harbor” who is in the love triangle opposite Ben Affleck). Then there was Dr. Escobar, the Latino GPS navigator (who looked more like a musician in a Cuban rumba band). And finally the tan angel that floated down from some Scandinavian star, Dr. Tripp, who tended to be the spokesman. I could tell, he was going to be the captain and I was going to be his vessel. OH how I wished!

Dr. Tripp with tan: So, Ms. Taylor, can you describe the procedure we will be performing on you today in your own words?

Patient with wedgie: UH, you’re gona stick a camera down my lungs to carve out some junk with a spoon then send it to the lab to test, right?

Dr. Tripp with smile and tan: That’s, pretty good. The procedure we will be performing is a Bronchoscopy …blah blah blah

At that point, as I listened to the doctor explain in medical terms what they were going to do to me, I began to think, “How come I can’t have a man like this in my life damn it?” and “How did this blonde guy get such a killer tan in late OCTOBER?” If I was to croak that day on the operating table, at least I would be happy to have this doctor with the beautiful complexion try to CPR my ass back to life.

Dr. Tripp's fishing rod.

Dr. Tripp’s fishing rod.

Dr. Tripp with killer tan: Any questions for us before we start?

Patient with killer wedgie: Yeh, can I drink after I get home this evening?

Dr. Tripp with tan: It is recommended that no alcoholic beverages shall be consumed up to 24 hours after the procedure.

Patient with wedgie: So you are saying I can’t drink a beer later tonight even if I know I won’t be driving?

Dr. Tripp (with laughter erupting from background): It is recommended that no alcoholic beverages shall be consumed up to 24 hours after the procedure.

And after that, I was pretty much out like chalk erased off a blackboard. OH how I miss you Dr. Tripp and your stories to staff about your fishing trips to Baja California to work on that perfect skin tone. Please pardon all the snoring I did during the procedure. Maybe we shall cross paths on another operating table in the distant ill future. That or some outside cantina on a beach down in Los Cabos.

Could Josh Hartnett now be hiding out from Hollywood as Dr. Powers?

Could Josh Hartnett now be hiding out from Hollywood as Dr. Powers?

Fast forward a week later, I meet with Dr. Powers (aka, “Pearl Harbor” movie star) for the scoop on what they found from several cell samples they took off my bronchial tubes. Its official, I hit the cancer lottery…but thankfully not the Super Lotto. Stage 4, spread throughout my lungs and in a mass taking up about a fourth of my liver. Metastatic colon ca…ca..cancer. They are devil cells left behind from the tumor that was removed from my colon in 2011. No cure (according to Mr. Movie Star). Chemo next which will just keep the cancer cells isolated to lungs and liver and hopefully not spread. When I heard the words “no cure”, I turned to my best friend who was looking at me as though I was a ghost and said, “What! So its like AIDS? I will have it for life?” I couldn’t process it into my mind. The words tried to soak into my head like a pigeon turd that had just been dropped from above. My friend who was kind enough to drive me to the appointment sat speechless. She was the one that would usually crack jokes about everything. This time, I had to be the one to crack them, “Well, at least I can still have sex”.

So, as I wait for the oncologist to call me this week to schedule my chemo orientation, I sit and think about all the things I love the most: my son, my family, my wacky ideas, friends, stupid Chappelle Show episodes, kissing, pickles, Jay-Z songs, beautiful men, Yosemite, my son’s face, champagne, the sky, jogging, art museums, Thai food, my mom, Andrea Boccelli, sex with beautiful men, poetry, my new nephew, French stuff, dancing, a Neiman Marcus catalog, laughing…there is no end to the list. But, NEVER EVER do I think of OBAMACARE!

Me in 2002 flying over Los Cabos. Maybe I will see Dr. Tripp!

Me in 2002 flying over Los Cabos. Maybe I will see Dr. Tripp!

It’s just a reminder, no matter what state your health is in, no matter how hard your life gets rocked, one needs to do what Neil Young  did in the 80’s when record companies tried to crap over all his genius : KEEP ON ROCKING IN A FREE WORLD!

The bad ass himself, Neil Young.

The bad ass himself, Neil Young.

Another bad ass rocking his way back to health. DON'T FORGET OUR TROOPS!

Another bad ass rocking his way back to health.
DON’T FORGET OUR TROOPS!

OH, and yes, I finally picked that wedgie.

To Be or Not to Be Cancer (that is the question)

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One full week, that’s how long I have been waiting to hear back from the doctors to determine whether or not cancer has returned to my thirty-nine year old body. Who needs shows like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” when you got Ms. Amanda aka “lets drink a beer to my tumor” here.  I am proof that bad weeds never die. In 2011, when I had surgery to remove a tumor with stage two colon cancer, I changed my perception of what I was facing. “OH, it’s just a dirty pimple inside me that needs to be cleared out. I will be fine and be back  to eating pink glazed donuts before you know it,” was what I told everyone. And I was right, for a while.

Yours truly in 2010, in healthier and happier times.

Yours truly in 2010, in healthier and happier times.

So in the same week I got laid off my job (see previous post, OH LUCKY ME), I decided to go in to see a doctor about the pressure in my chest I had been feeling off and on for three weeks. I didn’t like taking time off work to go to hospitals since I hated doctors and disliked a cut in my pay, so I figured I would do a quick run while I was now officially “UNEMPLOYED” with plenty of free time on my hands. (That and I wanted a good excuse not to job hunt.) An X-ray, one CT scan, a visit to the pulmonary specialist, and  a PET CT Scan later, doctors still wouldn’t and couldn’t (and shouldn’t?) tell me what this pressure is in my chest. In the meanwhile, I still feel like I have  Mini Me sitting on my ribcage, making it uncomfortable to sleep at night.

Mini Me on my chest.

Mini Me on my chest.

So what are the possibilities of what this Mini Me may be according to the doctors?  Since I hadn’t had a cold since February, a virus was pretty much out of the question. So what do they say it could be: A very atypical fungal infection…tuberculosis…or …. ca…ca…ca…cancer. I am very much in favor of the idea of a Portobello Mushroom making a home out of my lungs…but doctors seem to favor the ca..ca…cancer.

In the meanwhile, I have a bunch of thoughts rushing through my head:

1) Damn it, I got to get laid.

2) If I lose my hair with chemo, I can always get a purple Katy Perry wig.

3) I got to get laid.

4) Fuck my old job…But, who would have thought they laying me off may be saving my life. I should send them a THANK YOU card.

5) I need to take out some more life insurance so my son can buy a bad ass car when I am dead and gone.

6) Maybe this is all a big ball of crap and I just need to smuggle some antibiotics from Mexico like I did a few years back for that ear infection.

7) I need to get laid.

8) Damn it, I need to finish my memoir.

9) I don’t want to die in El Cajon!!!! Maybe I have enough $ for a one way ticket to Paris (France, not Texas y’all) when I am close to croaking.

10) I better get off my ass and find someone to get laid with.

So  as I approach Monday, tomorrow, waiting for doctors to tell me when I am scheduled to go in for a biopsy (they carving out a piece of my lungs to determine if I, in fact, do have a mushroom or cancer..or MiniMe inside my chest), I sit and wait and wonder if maybe this is just the devil or an angel moving into my realm. I can only wait and wonder why now, why this, why me, why anything. WHY ???

Jesus asks...HEY MAN, WHY ME?

Jesus asks…HEY MAN, WHY ME?

So when Jesus cried out to God in the garden of Gethsemane the day before he was nailed to driftwood, asking God why me? why now?…I guess I will just accept what the Source said in response to people who question events: “Hey, buddy, WHY NOT???”

Maybe I should start Googling that purple Katy Perry wig.

Katy Perry Wig available on Amazon.com for $29.99

Katy Perry Wig available on Amazon.com for $29.99

The following is a poem that expresses how much I love life and refuse to give it up:

A Practical Prayer

I want to be the maker of beautiful things;

The preacher of beautiful words;

The lover of the loveliest loving.

I want to saturate myself in the soil,

heart-bloody-bosom to be one with Earth;

I want to breathe in a cloud

and exhale thirst;

I want to mold a mountain in my mind

and inhale the highest high;

scale the invisible stairs in the sky.

I want to swim in my river of emotions,

pushing over a cliff, falling and feeling

the deepest parts of my soul.

I want to pray to stay with eyes ocean-wide

seeing all things anew, aglow,

trusting and thrusting into each action,

dancing with the leaves,

to lie open to the sun,

friend to all with childlike ease.

I want memories to flow like cotton candy,

sweet and light and Easter bright.

I want to hope here with myself,

to taste my possibilities alive,

any moment, the discovery of now,

the anticipation of this and that,

of him or her,

of anywhere in this dream we all dream

of the seen and unseen,

of the fountain of continuation,

of the song sung between you and me.

Everyone Has An Asshole

ALL HAIL TIMMERMAN's, my personal liquid morphine.

This week, I got laid all right…but not the right kind. Getting laid off from my employer yesterday along with others, I did the most logical thing: I headed straight for the Yard House Grill to get my Timmerman’s strawberry beer and looked … Continue reading

A Self-Portrait to Celebrate

Japanese Brush Self Portrait

Don’t you love it when someone does your portrait and it ends up NOT looking like you? That you actually turn out rendered better than your true appearance? Such is what happened to me last week at a local artist’s fair.
As usual, I declined to sit for the artist (Judith) at hand who kept pleading with me to be her model for a “free session”. “Free”, I thought? If this session is going to be free, than you know yours truly will end up getting a self-portrait branded with a big honker and crooked teeth. God forbid me volunteer as a nude, then I’d really have to pray to the Photoshop gods to rework me. So I decided to sit for her since she wasn’t one of those cartoony “artists”, convincing myself that if I didn’t like the portrait, I could always give it to my son to use as a target for BB-gun practice. But when the artist, who was working in a Japanese waterbrush technique, finished her 1 minute and 43 second “free session”, I was as relieved as a giddy contestant seeing their handsome match on the Dating Game. My big honker was barely suggested, though it could be used for a fly’s landing strip. And my crooked teeth were hidden behind a geisha’s mouth. I was so happy, I decided to drive on down to 7-Eleven and buy a Slurpee to celebrate myself.

The following is a poem dedicated to Walt Whitman, who reminded us not to forget the joy that comes from liking ourselves.


To Walt

I celebrate myself anonymous.
I celebrate myself and toast
to the new,
to the old,
to those men of age
and those young women born of spark
and halls of mirrors,
lovers of themselves.
I celebrate
to the past and the future
and join their hands
here as one.
I praise to rise.
I rise to praise.
I become and say
what shall remain:
All as a single voice,
heart of thought;
soul of thinking,
I am.
I shall remain.
Celebrate my thoughts
as yours.
Celebrate the blood
burning through an indifferent hour.
I penetrate the unknown
and mark myself as lightning
illuminated.
I celebrate.
I celebrate all
every day,
a new way
within.

Hidden Forces and Divorces

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I’ve been watching a lot of couples lately… some married, others just “in a relationship”. I wonder why it is that one person gets pulled into another person’s orbit versus all the other people out there in the world. I doubt most of them ever realized the forces drawing them into realms beyond their conscious control. Why don’t I care to date Joe the Plumber or Jenny from down the block, but someone else would? What is that extra something? But more importantly, what extinguishes that spark? Where did the interest in a relationship begin to waver? Was “it” ever there?

Dropping my son off at his father’s house (a man I was “with” for over 11 yrs, then suddenly not), I had an odd sensation. I could only describe it in poetric form by writing “The Amicable Divorce”.

It is a scientific fact that certain mysterious forces attract or repel one another. Seeing that I was an awful physics student in high school, its no wonder that I didn’t study up enough to know why this happens, when to see it coming, and what to do about it. I guess these are the lessons we live to learn about the hard way.

The Amicable Divorce

You can (not) say
there is
little warmth

in this room
where we stand

two candles
set apart;

two waning tongues of fire.

No more to argue,
no more to blame,
though, yes,
we did once touch.
And I admit,
it was you that lit my world as naturally as a disaster,
fusing me into figure,
sharing in your breath of life.

Here we stand.

Two heated mutes,
as ignorant as the mind and the heart are to one another.
Where does the spirit dwell?

Here we stand.

Two volcanoes
hibernating for a reason in hell,
flanking what sits between us,
that wildfire we set ablaze,
brought only together to
control-itandconsole-it,
though it pushes
and pulls
with a will of its own.
At moments,
we douse it with the tears of our shame.

Here we stand.

Angelic as dead-dog weight,
passive as peace,
hate hollowed out of us and
replaced with the halos
we each carry,
so real
their black holes can be measured
light years away.

6/13/13 @ Renette Place

Help for Heathens

The Langley family before heading to church. I am the evil heathen with the bow in her hair.

The Langley family before heading to church. I am the evil heathen with the bow in her hair.

More recently, I, at the age of 39, got in a shouting match with my 78-year-old father, something I haven’t done since I was a teenager. It involved me explaining to him why his three kids, me included, do not attend church. As children, we were raised Southern Baptist, attending church religiously every single week from the time we could walk until we were about 19 yrs old. We basically got sick of having our father and the church’s dogmatic conditions of love placed on us. A lot was expected out of us kids. It always felt like someone was choking the spirit out of me. In church, I remember praying to God for a sanctuary away from the church sanctuary.

One of my preferred sanctuaries.

One of my preferred sanctuaries.

During our shouting match, my father called me a “heathen”, a word he threw around when I was a kid that I knew was meant to sting another person in a hurtful way when he said it. But when I now reflect on what the word actually means, I guess I will carry the term with honor in my heart. I am a bit of a heathen. I don’t reject God, I just expanded on my idea of the Bible character. My heart and spirit does connect to some pagan force much more than when I was expected to follow a bunch of words some men (I will never meet) wrote down hundreds of years ago to help control human behavior. I get more out of watching and connecting to the forces of the sky, the ocean, the mysteries of a beating heart, etc. So for anyone else that grew up disillusioned by dogma or figures of authority that wanted to force you into accepting their beliefs, I am here to help. The following is a poem I wrote after confronting my father. I hope it helps my fellow heathens who want to tune into our original “selves” before society set down rules and formulas to get “whole”.

Sanctuary

The congregations will be erecting their steeples today,

pounding bricks into earth,

melting steel between stone,

aiming and preying on the sky,

reaching audacity,

mocking the trees with their protruding announcement.

For centuries animals have done this,

hoping for a refuge,

via their nests and webs and varying forms as I,

laying here on the grass.

Lit by the heated eye of some devil’s mouth,

naked as the underbelly of my tongue,

I am building up on a Sunday afternoon.

The Zen of Nonsense

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Welcome to the year 2013. It is an age where we can call up a midget, take a picture of our BFF, and Google ourself all on the same hand-held device. We can buy a fancy car with other people’s money at the click of a button, sue our own mother for giving birth to us, and save a rare species of scum to save some country in Africa we never heard of. Yes, we are masters of nonsensical doings in a nonsensical world.

We could create a whole new world on channel 1002!

We could create a whole new world on channel 1002!

Another thing that makes little sense to me is the high rate of unemployed people. The following is a poem from my chapbook “Four O’clock in Dog Years”. It is a plea to my fellow unemployed Earthlings. We could take back this world and rule with the Zen of Nonsense.

The Unemployables

Between breathing, wishing, and dreaming,

we’ve become a state all our own:

Creating a new society,

a whole other someplace on channel 1002

to make the Amish jealous and the Tea Party

look like a costume ball.

Maybe use the Green Party for a doormat

while the Democrats and Republicans continue

making laws against breathing.

We could build a functioning world

with our very own school teachers;

Our own grocery clerks;

Our own air pilots too.

Recruit the best nurses and plumbers;

It would be an ideal world

with a surplus of artists, musicians, and farmers.

Imagine, if you can,

no billionaires!

Have master carpenters craft our homes.

Have top chefs cook our food.

Barter much of anything and everything.

Bring along a dog, a pony, and a favorite

pickup or two.

Then someone would suggest playing a politician,

or a stiff-as-starch CEO,

just so we could terminate him on the spot…

Make it our new society’s

recognized holiday re-enacted

every year to remind us

of the birth of our

ultra-post-modern uncivilization.