Missing America

miss america 24

1924 was a good year, just look at how the roaring ’20 saved fabric…Susan B. Anthony legacy would be cemented on August 24th, 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Why ’24 over the other years though?

  • Lenin died.
  • The first gas chamber execution. Skip O’Hare. went ahead in Las Vegas which coincided with Bob’s all you can eat chili smothered burrito night and the Edison funnel, deemed a failure after Mr. O’Hare merely vomited everywhere. Instead he electrocuted an elephant again, to fall on Mr. O’Hare. Due to a bum leg ligament, Franz, the elephant fell into the crowd, killing 7 onlookers. The sick Skip O’Hare demanded a new trial on the 7 latest victims and would live another 14.8 years.
  • Hitler is sentenced to 5 years fir his role in Beer Hall Putsch, serving only 5 months.
  • J.Edgar Hoover becomes head of FBI.
  • George Mallory slowly became a human Popsicle, sadly before Sal. the shaved ice guy from Philly could douse him in cherry syrup.
  • Native Americans are granted US citizenship if born within the USA….not a joke.
  • My favorite: Toastmasters is founded.
  • First Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is held.
  • Dec 30th, Canada craps out a hockey team, and calls it the Boston Bruins.

What does any of this have to do with Miss America 1924? Ruth Malcomson  was from Philadelphia…and she WON! Modern miracles do happen.

Miss America 1924 - Ruth Malcomson (2)

Miracles happen. I need one but fact of the matter is God went above and beyond in my case of them.

those knees tho

Between miracles though we have these bookends, the above: Those bare knees. Hearts race, the quicken pulses producing a faint dew of perspiration of men everywhere within eye contact of this vixen from 1921 and below:

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Sacajawea’s cousin Sits on Hay (©1931) finishes a disappointing 43rd. One judge commented her outfits were nothing but “harlot” quality all night long.

She faded off into obscurity, and that was alright for her.

A friend told me something the other day that made it easier- “you hsve a legacy, on these blogs, and the memoirs. Michael, they are incredible, their word, your experiences, those things have helped people get through things. That God saved your junkie ass alive along enough to finish is many things, a miracle for you, a blessing for us.”

People tell you something like that and it’s impossible to not be amazed, to be humbled and honored. I did it right this time around, and while the cancer thing certainly qualifies as in need of a miracle for healing, my heart has rejuvenated, and my soul fully mended. For those gifts, what can I even say? The goodness inside of me, that chunk o’ God inside us all- grace allowed me to sweep the wreckage away from it, while I mended a lot of it, I needed a friend here to rehabilitate my ego, another to resuscitate my connection with Him, while others alleviated the pain I created.

The miracle has so many facets, so many players involved, and seemingly from all of the randomness comes an order. How else do you explain any of my beautiful life, a life I endeavor to keep being thankful with each new day. One more chance to give back. For all of you who took the time to read this, thank you- there’s one miracle in itself, you made it through the whole thing.

PEACE and Love,
-MFJ

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A Beautifully Chaotic Life

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I’ve lived a beautiful life, and even though I know my countdown has begun earlier than most people, I am ok with it- the majority of the time. Fact is the kid who had a blasé outlook for so long is absolutely loving life. However, on the way home from the Tool concert, I lost it talking to my buddy.

He saw a side of me few do-the raw, unpolished, unprepared guy whose truest emotions rest at the bottom of God’s murky filled cauldron of mystery stew. My batch is good on salt big guy. Every once in a while though the angel stirring the pot is out smoking or on a more important call-lord knows there is enough tragedy and pain on this planet, it’s a wonder dinner is ever served. Point is, that calm, collected demeanor sticks to the bottom sometimes and I scream out unrehearsed material -which goes like this – “I don’t want to fucking die yet. It’s too early!”

Obviously I am still here, but I felt human the other night at Tool. Maybe diseased  or a cancer-ridden  human is more accurate. The metastasized bone cancer areas made their presence known on a couple hour drive. My last vertebrae is affected, as well as areas in my pelvis, meaning sitting hurt. Talk about something we take for granted. “I don’t want to fucking die, and I don’t want to feel so much pain just fucking sitting.” I don’t get both right now, so the living part will be the better play. Tomorrow when I meet with my hospice nurse, my pain meds may go up again. 300mg of extended-release morphine twice a day and 20mg of immediate release hourly if needed put most of my body at peace, but now there’s this, so 400mg, here we come probably.

I had someone tell me how lucky I am to be getting so many opiates. I won’t be speaking to that cretin anymore. “Yeah, I’m blessed- Look at that, I have some leftover chondrosarcoma, lung and bone cancer there’s plenty to spare. Lucky for you my mom raised me to share.” Speaking of lung cancer, 4 flights of stairs at the parking garage and I could barely breathe to curse the cheap bastards for saving  a dime on no elevators. I needed oxygen, desperately. I’ve never felt that before unless someone knocks the wind out of me. It’s a race of ironies, because  needed it as fast as possible, yet had to pace myself between a narcoleptic snail and a Xanax addicted 3-toed sloth.

By far the worst thing though was the other 5 people I was with-they wanted to do something. As I sat breathing in my oxygen, I began to sob. I just can’t keep up with regular people-I’m sick. I’m slowly dying.

I told one of them about it, and through his Russian accent, I remember him telling me that it was cool, not to worry about it. I was there wasn’t I? Isn’t that the important thing? I was fucking there, and that is a beautiful thing. I turn 43 Wednesday. Pearl Jam plays here on April 8th. It would be the 25th show I’ve seen them, and plan on seeing them.

My life has been a wonderful experience. I’ve truly lived it, through all the pain and bs, nothing has stopped me. I saw Game 1 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals. I’ve been halfway around the world, countless countries and historical monuments, like Ankgor Wat in Cambodia, Mayan ruins in Tulum, Stanley Cup and a Steeler  victory parades. On and on with the sights, but then there’s the people through all of it. From Mario Lemieux Christmas shopping at Kaufman’s. As a boy, Jimmy “Superfly” (sadly a Murderer) Snuka, to my guys on the railroad tracks, having their deep philosophical conversations on everything from politics to what dog looks strong in the 8th race at the kennel club. The amount of awesome in my life is just humbling.

I got this text last night and cried like a baby who had his Twinkies stolen. Do babies eat Twinkies? Not important.

You’re the man. I appreciate your strength more than you know. It was a good time. I’ll be back sometime this week.

Funny thing, he taught me how to be that man.

Peace & Love-
MFJ

Cancer Diaries: Afraid to Sleep?

vintage nurse

Mitt Romney, paraphrased at the 2012 Presidential debates, said something like, The emergency room can provide adequate health care to those who don’t have health insurance. Yeah Mitt, you’re deadly wrong.

A little history as to what I am calling Mt. Cianflone (elev 4.12825″ above sea level), i.e. the chondrosarcoma on my chest.

PLEASE NOTE: I’ve not seen scan images, but being a formal health professional, I don’t want to since it is easier to live in naive bliss. Plus, my imagination can get a brief workout, as I am confident Michael Jr. is none of the following: It is NOT the leftovers of my long lost twin I  only partially consumed in utero.  Nor is it the accumulation of Swedish fish and Five Guys’ burger ‘juice.’ It does not deflate when poked with a safety pin or syringe.

What it is though: I was born with what my family called bone spurs, one of which was under my left armpit. Dormant since birth, this calcified lump suddenly erupted about 5 years ago, becoming built up little by little, until it became a noticeable entity. It looked like I could only afford one boob in an augmentation, and this surge in growth I blamed on the Fukushima reactor meltdown. I was also getting very high at the time, a few years into a ‘this time it will work,’ multi-year love affair with heroin. I knew it was there, I certainly understood that it was a tumor of some kind, but that is where my curiosity ceased.

By the time I added cocaine to the routine, another year or so had passed, and it had grown noticeably. (Another shameless plug ALERT: Shoestring Theories (BUY ME) in fact begins with a trip to West Palm hospital. which is where I had this mass first scanned. I was told it was an osteochondroma, a benign bone tumor. However, if it grew in the future, I needed to get it checked out. It grew, I didn’t have it checked out. It stopped growing, then it made an attempt to really gain some attention, or finally make me pay it some mind.

Why I had avoided this for months:

  1. It was benign, I would get it cut out when it physically bothered me.
  2. I was fairly new in recovery, and didn’t feel I was ready for major surgery, the pain, and the pain killers.
  3. No insurance, if I could just make it til January 1st, I could afford this and not just be swept along from one cancer place to another.
  4. Couldn’t be living paycheck to paycheck

I was in a place that even missing one week of work would set me back because I was trapped in the Delray halfway house scene. Paying week-to-week rent, all that it takes to derail the locomotive is one unexpected expense and next thing you know, you’re getting thrown out over not paying the rent. Let’s just say, where I was staying, they were not flexible when it came to the money

All this has left me where I am at this moment, coming to an understanding that all the support in the world does not change the intimacy of my relationship with death. I have my good days, where my smiles are genuine. I feel it deep down inside- this path I am on has a beautiful outcome, be it survival or not. I’ve said it before, writing Shoestring Theories, if it reached just one addict or family of an addict and helped them get the truly awesome gift of recovery, then confessing all my sins was well worth it to help spur that change.

Today is not one of those days. The pain level is intense, every breath is a cacophony of high pierced wheezes that deafens as I close my ears. Days like this, where just trying to roll out of bed seem super hero feats of strength and mind control.

Worst of all is this new anxiety that attacks me at night- I am afraid to sleep. There’s this loneliness with sleep these days, unexplained, crushing. My eyes close but the lids are spring-mounted. Irrational fears hold thought veto control, am I afraid of not waking up? Or being startled conscious by sharp pain? Would company ease my mind?

I hope this feeling and I divorce quickly. It is absolutely draining, it’s soul-devouring and my first true ‘doomsday’ emotion. In the meantime, I patiently wait for exhaustion to take over. Somewhat ironic fatigue is lazy and can’t show up even on the same night.

Prayers please. Peace and Love,
-MFJ

The Last Independent Break (#6)

So, Gabby and I have been at this for a minute, and she and I agree the time has come to work on this as a book and not a blog. Kind of a perk when you run an indie publishing company with a badass name, Mind Shrapnel. Should check it out…

Fake paperback cover by John Duillo from MAN'S DARING, January 1965-8x6

I’m struggling to add 1+1, because subtraction is a mean mother fucker,
Always butting in, forcing nothing into my reality
I’m turning violent on the inside
My intentions are shifting from genuine to that of the misguided masses
Life is proving to be meaningless…again
People seem comfortable existing in the lie
Naked flesh my edification because love is making promises she can’t keep
Maybe I’m chasing an illusion, maybe my perversions feed my self-destruction?
A needed flip on of the pain switch, zero.
Zero. Nothing.
So I need anything, something to jar my senses into feeling
Shakespeare may be proud of this modern tragedy-
Where hurt blooms beauty, where joy wilts in the crowding darkness
Always wanting her back after she closes the door on us
Impeccable timing in hindsight, I find so much crawling on the filthy floor
A scrap of  nourishment…
An angel looking for her wings…
Oh fuck, here we go again…
-MFJ

The falling away of the masses is very much prevalent in my life
When I speak of masses I mean masses of memories
Trying to run them out of my own mind
Distinguishing the truth from false
Reality from fantasy
Who exactly was that man I let ruin me ?
And who exactly am I? The woman that I presented to him?
Two very much broken people trying to mend each other
Pretending to be whole separately.
I skated through my life with constant waves goodbyes and sudden hello’s
‘How are you’s’ that I never cared about
From which he always seemed to stay present in his
Yet absent from attachment to the bigger picture
I chased a weak rabbit down its hole and fell completely face first
In my own fate
Alone.
Whose fault is it anyway ?
By any means should I take full responsibility,
Stuffing the narcotics down
Dousing myself in vodka again.
But here I sit.
Contemplating my old, awful decisions, as usual.
In the white room, on my single bed,
In my gripped hospital socks, I sit thinking about him and mostly me,
That this is ending now.
I’m hoping for good and glory.
-GS

No Shit, ‘Life Happens’

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This chicken is my neighbor apparently. She did eventually cross the road, not to get to the other side, but to avoid a discussion with me on past lives and reincarnation. In particular, the question, “What did you do to live as a free range chicken in the 21st century?” I can’t be sure, but I think I saw a tear flow down her beak as she went clucking and pecking into the light of a rising summer sun.

There’s something I hear a lot in the rooms of recovery, “Life happens,” or its even worse sibling, “life shows up.” Really? Only a selfish addict would pretend life periodically visits us. It always seems to preface tales of present day problems. It annoys me. Life has been going on the whole time. For me, so many joyous times streamed by, now just dusty memories I couldn’t appreciate or downright missed, due to being enveloped by narcotic fog. Now that I am recovered, I embrace every day. I love that life is always happening.

Good and bad, I don’t use those terms. Life is a continual experience, a series of intersections, where we meet others. Some hitch and we take them along for the ride. How long they’ll be in the car depends on their destination. Enjoy the moments, the laughs, the opportunities to see the biggest ball of aluminum foil, and be sad to see them get out of the car. Some are with us the whole way, become part of our family not defined by blood, but by having my back no matter what and vice versa.
Others collide with us like a Silver Alert senior, hitting us out of nowhere, landing the car in the shop. While that vehicle is being fixed, we can get out and explore a new town if we choose. It’s a sit down in a diner, more lives mix, if I’m aware of the surroundings, if I get out and do. A great conversation with a stranger who is now a friend, every experience a teachable moment, a chance to pick up the tab for the less fortunate.

Too many sit in the waiting room, focused on the dents and scraped paint. They look at the estimate, and stress out. Recovery and steps are insurance, and God is a pretty good level of coverage. He’s got that bill. No deductible because we’ve already paid that.

Enough metaphors. Experience life. Being grateful makes me appreciate the small things that others do not have. Every morning I wake up in an awesome house. I have shelter while others walk the streets, looking for a safe place to rest their heads. Funny part is, I came back from Pittsburgh with nowhere to go. Weeks prior, I met a lady at my book signing, a complete stranger, that became a friend. Hmm…sounds familiar, no? She got me into the house. While it was stressful, I never doubted I’d have a place to live.

Life has been happening for a long time. Acts of kindness are everywhere, I endeavor to pay attention and help others. Moments of pain, times of trouble, I feel the emotions of those moments and absorb the lessons. They make me a better man. I don’t cry about those things, I cherish them. I grow from them rather than sit in the body shop of life, reading a 3-year-old issue of Time Magazine. Yeah one more metaphor.

Peace and love,
MFJ

Independent Breaks #5

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Our toes danced in the sand. It was the way the sun reflected off her hair, a million shades I could discern if given the ability to stop time. If I had that, I’d be frozen in a moment, like that first time, when passion burnt away our fears and we played in their ashes. I would have never left that place. Love doesn’t die, it’s murdered. Cornered, it’s the only conclusion. Forced confession doesn’t mean it’s not true. I fucked up the beauty of those captured moments, I poisoned our memories and was too complacent to treat my problem. I put the knife to happiness’ throat, watched it bleed out. I put the gun to her chest and played Russian roulette until she won freedom and I lost sanity. I am set up to fail, the knight, in eroding  armor. Subconscious successes get that way by my conscious failures, the world forces loneliness so that I can once again retreat to the only comfort I’ve known.
-MFJ

Adjacently we sat staring, the chemical make up of two intelligent brains,
Only distanced between the relationship pattern it struck by the introduction we’ve always had
Doctor, Patient
The well and the sickly, damsel, by all means so distressed… once more
I always wondered if this establishment tried a ploy on me by a distraction of yet another man, if indeed a cure by a man would entirely fix the issue?
If only the issue was the men itself and not the sick little girl, dying to escape my inner workings of my mind…
Developmentally educated, outspoken with a lady like twang, I cursed the moments when an uneasy emotion aroused itself.
The classification read: E for Emotionally Unstable
Reality: Highly Functioning until Co-Dependency Role is revived (Patient is “Caretaker”- but yet “perpetual victim of circumstance”)

An actress, constantly getting ready for the days performance
Same script, different characters
Unless my Nike’s beckoned the calling off again, to re- write something so similar
The harsh reality of the common denominator,
I.
Can 1 cancel out I? So many vague attempts already tried that route, nevertheless unsuccessful.
Rattling inside my purse, it sounded joyful like a child’s toy, but yet concealed was a sack of psych pills, as if the cure was to medicate a chronic love addict, drowning in my sorrows.
The pain that never ends, due to my own wrong doing,
Yet I’ll quickly blame whomever he is at the time for the instability in my lifestyle.
Slithering away from labels, but rightfully choosing one, it’ll read “fragile’ ” like an European shipped box
Any outsider glancing in at this freak couldn’t grasp it.
How a woman like “this” could perform but refuse to connect?
Mesmerizing when speaking with posture like a goddess, to all I knew the hunger of love from my inner, frail child was dying slowly
The unavailability was very present
As I churned and stuffed when my child attempted to reach out
Hasn’t she learned yet? The opinions are invalid?
Exposure would invite predators and my table only sat one.
The fear of being found but the wanting to be caused a conflict internally
This woman, Me, I was at a war
With No Weaponry.
-GS
Harvesting the mental killing fields.
Another murdered love affair fills my nostrils
The stench of maggot ridden gray matter.
What made her tick, where did I go wrong?
Reading her letters, offers of forevers, promises of fidelity.
Cleverly penned traps, my heart fell for that almost instantly.
Her beauty and grace snared my random dreams
Built a prison out of my crosses.
Why is everything empty?
So barren my whispers echo ?
I have my freedom but I can’t move.
It’s getting comfortable here, in this place of loneliness, surrounded by shame
And vibrant memories I’m desperate to erase.
-MFJ
My pacing increased externally trying to jump ship from the body I had
My armor was fully removed
Loneliness had crept it’s ugly head around my corner, snuck into my bed and nuzzle itself safely.
Concealed.
It wasn’t going anywhere.
My heart bleeds black, the blood rushed itself dry…
I’m waiting to crack & crumble.
Hopelessness is the beauty of defeat.
My strung out, drawn in eyes buried themselves face down in my sheets,
Don’t wake me till this reoccurring nightmare finally ends.
I’ve died a 1000 deaths already, this one seems the most painful
I can not figure out why the reasoning is to why he was suddenly different from the others.
Was it the shadowy exit? Or the reality of it all being a perpetual delusion of my own sick mind…
-GS