A Beautifully Chaotic Life


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-


The Recovery Scene


I’ve been thinking about how to say certain things, without being a complete dick. A lot of people are dying in our country, as bags of fentanyl go around. 74 people in 72 hours in Chicago, yet my little hometown of Washington had 18 in 24 hours, not to mention like 8 in 3 minutes or something crazy like that. Thankfully a lot of people were saved thanks to Narcan and fast responses of EMS crews.

I’ve died. More than a few times, and while it certainly should qualify as a “sobering experience,” it never did for me. What should have been a wake up call was not. Far from it. The junkie mentality is anytime there are bags going around causing OD’s is to seek out those. After all in my head, the people who died were just rookies, and I could handle anything.

In the end, it was sheer desperation that brought me to my knees. I lost absolutely everything, including my will to live. Back when I tried recovery for the first time, circa early 2000, I went to a meeting on Mount Washington, St. Mary’s maybe, but it was one of those fashion show meetings, where everyone dressed to impress, it was more social hookup fest than a regular meeting. It’s why I went. What I will never forget, and it’s impressive I remember anything from early 2000, is this guy, I can see his face so clearly, coming into it, and just standing up, going on a rant about the heroin users and the needle. “You will die.”

Because he was high, no one probably took him seriously, but that moment in time is vivid for me. “I’m not talking about those who snort it, I’m talking about those that shoot it right in the vein. It’s impossible to stop.” Yeah, I remember hearing all of it. What he said made sense. What caused me to pick up again was the same old pattern I would repeat over and over in life. I met a sexy nurse and the rest went down in the typical junkie love tragedy. Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, and some rap. I think about Debbie a lot, just wondering if she made it out of the tempest.

Other names include Sarah and the girl from Vermont I met here, whose face I can see but whose name I forget. Liz. That’s it. Amazing what a little clean time can give you. Denise, from South Carolina, who we called the Leprechaun. I’m sure you get the idea, but there were more than a few lives I intersected with that are just gone. With social media, I sometimes stumble upon someone from the past, but when first names are hard to jog, last names are impossible.

Back to my opening sentence, how do I say what I want without being a judgmental jerk? I’m going to talk about me. Anyone who meets me today, outside of work at least, is amazed by my peace. I got that from the 12 Steps. I suffered for almost 20 years, I swore I wouldn’t be miserable in recovery. I’m a jovial kind of guy, thankful for another day of life. Thankful for making it through, hoping I did something good for someone and admitting my mistakes.

I’ve gone through it, I’ve been literally penniless in recovery, unemployed through no fault of my own, been to funerals of friends, and spent of all of it single. Spare me the Tinder whore comments. 😊 Through all of it, I’ve remained firmly grounded, I am entrenched in sobriety, I am recovered and I am not giving any ground.

My worth is inside and I am most thankful for that gift. I am comfortable alone, and a few nights of lust withstanding, I didn’t want to get an apartment and obsess over any of those ladies like I used to prior to recovery. That idea blossomed into co-dependency but today I get it-  I never needed someone to make me whole, what I needed was conscious contact with God. If you’ve read Shoestring Theories you know it starts out with this line:

“Please God, let me die. I just can’t fuckin’ do this anymore. I’m sorry.

God, who never turned his back on me, who never tired of sending guardian angel after guardian angel to save my life, did allow a chunk of me to die. That part that whispers in my ear on how to get grimy, to get the next one, no matter what. You did not want to be my friend back then. Apparently I have a genius IQ, ironic given all incredibly stupid chances and choices I took on a daily basis, but intelligence turned selfish produces tragic results.

I guess the point is this, for me, nothing in the outside world is going to give me pure joy. Any happiness from a material possession is fleeting at best. I think of how this all began- be a pharmacist Mike, so you can make money, drive fast cars, get the girls, who cares why they like you, just shower them with gifts, get money, get stuff, get happiness, buy love.

I have a friend I lived with down in Maryland, that kind of friend that you go years without speaking to, that helped me out and I never repaid her, but once we talk, we’re all caught up and that bond I thought we reestablished, I realize it never broke. I have these incredible people in my life, old friends that always loved me, that kept me in their prayers, but again, I turned my back on God, not the other way around.

My drug addiction began chasing the American Dream, because I had no idea what happiness was. Today I have the answer. I got my self-worth and self-esteem back, something taken from me at such a young age, and that gave me the chance to find pure joy- it’s all in Step 12 – the message of altruism. Give to give, because someone did that for me. Give because it is right, not because you’ll get something in return. Help someone, with no ulterior motives, and life has a way of taking care of itself.

Peace and love