Cancer Diaries: What is That Creeping Behind Me?

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Angels represent refined earthly wants and desires, and that allows writers to slap “pure” in front of just about any word to heighten its sense of value and universality.

Truths…those absolutes that play out the same way, over and over in life.  Not everyone is going to pay taxes, so that cuts the cliche down to 50%, and really, Michael Jackson is still alive in so many of our hearts, music turned into data or perilously preserved in vinyl grooves, so is even death a certainty?

Legacies…memories with the brain’s Play button pressed in someone’s head, somewhere, right this minute. Since I just wrote it, I’m thinking about seeing him a few nights ago, on a Motown tribute concert, singing Billie Jean, all those sequins refracting light, the one glove, and of course, those dance moves. Because you just wrote it, you’re thinking about him right now too, but maybe you don’t like his music, maybe you think him having Mr. Bubbles the chimp for a pet was inhumane, but MJ left many marks.

MJ…I hear it, I think Michael Jordan. Just my most popular internal search result. The man was the flat out the best to ever play the game. His competitive spirit the thing that should be envied, from playing baseball and gambling, to out-dunking Dominique back when the NBA mattered.

Add up those first 4 paragraphs, you obviously reach the sum of MFJ, the author of this blog, me, physically being consumed by cancer, an unknown quantity of numbered days remaining, who values the one sole truth of love being the answer, and wanting to leave that mark on someone in this world.

I mean clearly, that’s the inside picture from my exact thought process- as one word suggests the next in sequence, albeit my order. A progression where I am denying a very important certainty, we all die. The difference is- I know my time is just about up. Doctors tell me this and the searing pain in my chest remind me there just might be some veracity in their claims, proving they are indeed fortune tellers. Tomorrow there might be a radical discovery curing all malignancies, because a team of doctors have been in the Amazon (which, in this rare case, is NOT a vast place of consumerism, where you can buy Shoestring Theories), find that the feces from a rare moth larvae pulls the plug on this unchecked cellular aggression. That or God is sick of my fucking ‘Cancer Diaries’ blogs.

Bingo Michael.  Enough is enough. I mean, I have given you the PERFECT opening to reignite the halcyon days of Tinderfish, OurTinderTime.com, – that collection comedic genius- that was pure (<- see what I did there?) sophomoric humor at its most sublime. So, you’re going to wrap this blog up, and go edit your Tinder profile:

Ladies, I respect your honesty: that you are not on an app that brings people together based on solely on attraction to fuck and have one-night stands. That somewhere in those right swipes, love blooms. I really want that too, but I have terminal cancer. Do you think we might be able to wave that rule you have  though, because I’m dying – and I know Vanessa Williams is on the money, because I want to Save the Best for Last too.

Enough God, I will not stoop to that level or shut up about my illness. I mean, you’re the one who writes this story line, so at least let me fill in the some of the blanks. That people in similar situations can share exactly how some of this feels, that type of sharing is vital.

I’ve become obsessed with my phlegm. Is that a fleck of red in there? Is that some of my once healthy lung? What exactly is happening on my insides and more importantly, this- you gave me so many shots at dying before- is a shitty way to take me out. I mean it-why did you waste all the time from even my last overdose in 2014 to now. It could have just ended then. My guardian angels would have gotten some extra time off, or re-assigned to someone who had enough to offer he wasn’t just killed off 2 years later.

I am angry. I am sad. Both because I am scared.

I shouldn’t be mad, I should be celebrating life. But I’m in my own panic.

I’m sick of this.

I can’t fall asleep because I might not wake up.

And well, I have more shit to accomplish.

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I’m invested in Star Wars– I have to make it to 8 & 9. Give me that. A legacy. That humor deflects, it never changes the truth. The greatest truth in life- love, for my fellow human being- that is pure. That is joy, to help another human being, to unknowingly pull someone back from the edge so that one day, their faith outweighs their fears, and something beautiful is created.

Never stop living Michael. It’s okay to be afraid, just don’t become paralyzed. Be grateful. Be kind. There’s work to be done.

Peace & Love,
-MFJ

Procrastination Remedy

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I’m dying, let’s not sugar coat it. Not in the sense we are all dying, but as in, I’m at the deli counter of life and fell for the Take a Number ploy. I’m in a line now and these mother fuckers behind the counter are moving efficiently. This never happens, what the hell? What I need is for some people ahead of me to not know what they want, to get some samples. Take your time Ethel, Boar’s Head makes a lot of  crazy varieties of turkey. Stop being so plain boring. 

Speaking of diversity, what do I want when it’s my turn? Maple? Salsalito? Should I do turkey and ham? That changes everything. Dammit!

This isn’t real, something happened to the script. Did I miss a re-write? Did that director feel some kind of way and have to have things unfold his way? Was I just a lot of back story that tested poorly with screening patrons? Pace. Things need to move along or people lose interest. Why else are there vines? We live in an ADHD world and I have something that takes a little longer than 15 seconds to explain.

I’m dying, and not alright with that, but the facts are what they are: metastasized cells in my lungs I can deal with, but the bones? That’s the number I have to take to get service, even if I am not even hungry. Some people asked me why I put a pocket watch and a skull and crossbones on the front cover of Shoestring Theories, so I’ll just go ahead and tell everyone- it’s a symbolic representation of life, for me. I’m living on borrowed time. We are all in a sense, just seems others take out a larger line of credit than I did; no, wait, I’m thinking I maxed out at the store of overpriced dreams, and spent recklessly on the most foolish illusions. No bank is willing to extend me any further, and my firebug nature caught up to me, there’s only so many banks and Indian (wigwam kind) payday loans out there to scam.

Live and learn. That used to apply, but the time has come to build a new bridge and hope that is spending the rest of my life and the best way possible. This blueprint is from the last lesson I learned, another taken completely to heart- a lot of people care. I had a steady stream of visitors at the hospital, a virtual flood of digital love and prayers, and private talks where friends and family don’t like how this blog commences. It hurts them. A leech on society and trust, now people see my inate goodness.

Borrowed time, because I shouldn’t be alive. 18 months ago I literally clawed and crawled  my way into rehab, far beyond broken, only fixable by the supernatural. God put the right repair men in my life, the best in the business, because I needed to let go, I needed to stop trusting the wrong voice in my head. I had to get well.

That transformation happened for me, not overnight, but it happened.

“Aren’t you pissed off God did this?
“Did what?”
“The terminal cancer Mike?”
“Why would I be mad at God for that?”
“Because man, you get clean and are just getting ready to celebrate a year and a half only to find out you’re going to die? Don’t you want to go get high?”
“No, I don’t get mad, and he didn’t sit up there and say, you know what Champ, let’s give that grandson of yours some ass kicking cancer.
“I guess.”
“Faith makes guessing non-existent. Seriously, here’s what God did do for me:

  • Saved my life. Repeatedly.
  • Have my family and so many old friends back in my life.
  • Brought a new, incredible group of friends into my life.
  • Freed me from attachments, which brings me peace.
  • Gives me exactly all I need every single day, the necessities.

I could go on and on, but this- situation- is not going to change my perspectives, it’s not going to give life to that sick voice that wanted me to suffer.”

I used to say I am one of the lucky ones. I am not, I am one of the blessed ones. Right now, with my diagnosis and prognosis, whatever, I am here one more day, and am going to make the most of the gift we take for granted.  Cancer is going to wreck me physically, but it is not going to destroy the peace inside me, it’s only going to strengthen and nurture the connection between God and I.

And those friends and family: I love you all. We’re going to get through this, and it’s going to be something to hold on to, remembering it for the joy.

It’s also gave me the title idea for this blog; it’s going to get me off my ass when it comes to writing.

Peace & Love,
-MFJ

Status Updates

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Let’s see, Shoestring Theories is number 2269 in memoirs on Kindles…51289 in print, with zero marketing.  Get to Amazon.com and buy that already! I have a marketer. I have about a million ideas on how to do it, and my life is moving too fast to catch a breath, let alone harness and develop an idea. Reality is I am kind of sick of me, and I am slow to communicate. So I have rested up, after an awesome trip home, where I was reunited with friends and family I hadn’t seen in at least 4 1/2 years. What’s humbling about the whole experience is the love and support, from people I screwed over, trusts I abused, and welcomes I wore microns thin, so much so that ants fell straight through.

That all said, one of the more satisfying things I have just launched from the shoreline of concepts into the ever-deepening ocean of pen to paper status, or data to hard drive, is getting Mind Shrapnel up and running. After all, I have plenty of time for that. For the few of you I am talking to, have patience, I need to get my plan together and then spend some time with other creative people who write with purpose. One is a guy I met at a halfway back a long, long time ago, who stayed clean this whole time while I took a path that melted GPS circuitry just enough to detour me everywhere but my destination. Since I was just home in the Burgh, detours may be a running theme for a minute or two.

The other person, whether she realizes it or not, is helping me get through writer’s block, and I am going to put it out here as a serial blog, a back and forth prose type thing between two strangers going through similar relationship issues. The cool thing about it is the fact that there is no direction, I write one, she writes one back, not an answer, but drawing some inspiration from the previous writer’s words. Confusing, maybe, but I’m launching that tomorrow I am thinking.

Which brings me to what I was really going to write about, status.

  •  adj. conferring or believed to confer elevated status
  • n. the position of an individual in relation to another or others, especially in regard to social or professional standing.

It’s weird living in South Florida. People spend $600,000 on a swimming pool and backyard kitchen. People are judged by material things. They travel the globe to experience life, but only the places with a Ritz-fucking Carlton, because well, you can’t get too in touch with reality. Certainly native people, living in conditions beyond ghastly would just fuck up that wanderlust. I’m thinking of opening a restaurant where I only serve a party of 4 max. $20,000 per couple. Maybe dredge up my infamous, once a year, heart attack inducing hot dog of pure gluttony…the one that is wrapped in bacon, then deep-fried. Except before I batter dip it, it needs stuffed with foie gras, then topped with Kobe beef chili, Cheez Whiz, creme fraiche (to class it back up after using  the Whiz) and homemade Fritos, the corn picked by some illegal immigrant, stone ground by a family member of the illegal…I’ve said too much.

Point is, this journey in life, where all I want is to get to downtown, but I am stuck in Carnegie for 3 hours, I’ve gained perspective. I’ve tried to fill up the void in my heart, that place where understanding is realized, with a mental mishmash of artificial joys. We are shown happiness is a killer body, so women starve themselves when they were gorgeous in the first place. If you’re not hot, defined by fashion, tv, pop music and movies, well then, you must be a terrible person. I have news for you though, I don’t need to see your pelvis, I don’t want it cutting me if something ever happens. People die chasing a lie. I don’t give two shits who made your purse, how much your shoes cost, or where you got your ‘work’ done. I’m not going to shoot steroids to get big. and destroy my kidneys eating 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

I chased it all. I get it. I’ve had a lot in my life before too. I’ve had beautiful women who feel ugly, I’ve met flawless people who are disgustingly arrogant and hollow. I’ve been well off, had a bunch of stuff. Yet, nothing changed, that hole inside didn’t fill, it got torn wider. Over and over, I chased artificial happiness, in women, in cars, in nice clothes, and most certainly heroin. For me, the selfish, asset chasing, emotion erasing dick head almost killed me. The whiny bitch boy who cried about what he didn’t have turpentined his surroundings into an empty canvas, where my problems were the sole focus. Yes, I made a noun a verb. Artistic license.

I endeavor to be selfless daily. It starts with being grateful for another sunrise, another breath, the ability to have all my senses function, to have an army of love behind me, and more importantly, inside me. I don’t need to impress anyone with a shirt that costs more than a family of four spends on food for a week. Shit is made out of cotton, that logo means dick all. In fact, given the fact some 7-year-old in Paraguay made it at the end of his 14 hour, $0.75 shift, that would make me a supporter of greed, a cog keeping the system churning and ultimately, retarded because I’d believe a tiny embroidered square makes me a better human being than the next guy in his plain white t-shirt.

When I am grateful, I see what others don’t have, and when opportunity to help rings the doorbell, the door is already open. That not only keeps me clean and sober, it keeps me full of joy.

Peace and Love,
MFJ

Who Am I?

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I read the acknowledgement section in my book a little while ago. That shit is humbling. A year ago, I was in a spartan treatment center, jealous of people who had friends, girlfriends and family members sending them cards and letters with money in them. I remember getting cards from a few people, and being pissed off that there was no money in them. True story. Left that out of the book because it didn’t dawn on me until I was cleaning out a drawer in preparation of changing addresses. I got a card from my Uncle Duane, who I hadn’t heard from in years, or at least it was that long according to my ever accurate, in need of constant correction by those conscious at the time, timeline.

It’s kind of apropos, no, it is totally fitting that was the first card I got in there besides from my mom and dad. He is a Franciscan monk, truthfully I have little idea what that entails, but in hindsight I look at the obvious ironies…one I reacted like an ungrateful dick, and two, it hit me that I was acting like an ungrateful asshole within 5 minutes. Something inside me had changed. When I got a card from my friend Andy, it meant everything to me that he had even bothered to write me, given the fact I used his reputation to get “help” i.e. have people send him money so I could shoot more dope in my arm.

When  I found out he told my father that he wished he had 1/10th my imagination and writing skills, I was humbled. That the funny glitter unicorn card would make someone laugh months later, and who is a dear friend of mine now, well, that’s just it…she is one of so many friends I have in my life. It was impossible to think of all the people in my life today, so many friends from the past that said some prayers that someone must have listened to up there, people I had no idea cared about me. People I haven’t talked to in forever.

Ex-girlfriends blindsided me with well wishes and how happy they were to actually read something on this blog that wasn’t me being a straight clown, or just outright lying. Then there are all the new friends I have met that only know the guy I have worked my ass off to become. That anyone can look up to my character and ask me to help them work steps, that’s an incredible feeling. That others ask me for advice, and I answer spiritually, a wholesale change has taken place in my heart and mind. Peace is beautiful.

So I am the sum of my actions. I am in this place, doing this, on a big day for me. I wronged so many people, and I continue to endeavor to live life the way I am and fix things wherever possible. I am blessed.

Then I remember to look back at the dedication in the book, to my friend Adam, who passed 4 days after I was laid off and told I wouldn’t be getting a $2000 commission check. We talked the night I was let go, about a lot of stuff, the job, a fantasy football league, girls, and where I was internally, how the steps had brought me closure, given me neutrality and so many other things, priceless things. I can’t believe he died. I can’t believe that was the last conversation we would have.

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So I am signing books today. How many times have I used the word humbling? Terrible writing, but I am too tired, too stressed, and too lazy to go to thesaurus.com and type in humble. Actually, as I typed that I thought to myself, why not go there secretly and show people how smart I am, even though my brain is struggling to put together long run-on sentences tonight, but the synonyms suck. Except one, or two, simple, polite and respectful. That would be three. I can count, even when brain dead.

A business is supporting me and my book, as well as the effort to get some proceeds to a charity, when before they wouldn’t have let me in the door, certainly would have banned me from the bathroom, and at best, given me a glass of water. I get to go home and do the same thing. I have come a long way, and while I put in the work on the book, God wrote the script. Or at least named the book. I am or will be reaching out to friends in Atlanta, NYC and LA,  to do the same type of things. I am so grateful for these chances.

Being an addict sucks. Loving an active addict is even worse. That I understand today. Maybe the book can help someone when it comes to that, that who I was, was a hopeless, broken junkie that was going to die. Very soon.  God’s grace intervened.  I get to tell my story, to reach out and tell people addicts are human beings, but change is most definitely a realistic goal. Don’t ever give up on him or her.

Click this if you can’t make it to the signing to get your copy of Shoestring Theories 

Peaceful, and grateful,
MFJ

Slow Heat

I’ll show you everything you ever or never wanted to know about being a junkie. The compromises of character that become routine, the sins committed for substance, the most mechanical existence that devastates everyone that knows me.

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Buy Shoestring Theories Now It’s on Kindle too, but not nearly as cool as the actual book. #fonts
Stay tuned to this blog and/or LIKE it on Facebook for announcements, such as signings, speaking engagements, etc.

Spread the word. Websites coming, new authors to the Mind Shrapnel house, interactive stuff, all sorts of good stuff.

Also, if you have been on Suboxone for “maintenance” I want to talk to you. Leave a comment or look at my contact info.

Shoestring Theories Officially Available

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First things first: THE LINK TO BUY

A lot is said about intentions, just last night I was telling a friend about the Buddhist concept of a good deed done with evil intentions is not a good deed, just like a bad deed done with good intentions can be good, in the karmic concept of life. I’ve seen it play out in my life since I have gotten clean and worked the steps- if I help someone, because it is the right thing to do, but maybe I am hoping to hook up with her as a ‘side effect,’ I am tainting the whole action. I am not being altruistic at all, that little bit of selfishness is a powerful enough poison to kill the last shred of kindness in the original act.

When I published Long Sleeved Summers, I told myself I was doing it to hopefully help people that somehow were tied to addiction, either as an addict, or friend or family of an one. I also had these fantastical dreams of being famous, ending up on Oprah, but when one spends his days shooting heroin, motivation is pretty low to breathe, let alone put in the work to succeed. Plus, more importantly, my actions of lying, (I was so far from clean when I published that book), made it impossible for those lofty ideals to shine through. As I result I hated that book, and why I am pulling it off the market.

Shoestring Theories is what I have always wanted my memoir to be, written on God’s schedule, not mine. There is a heavy spiritual component in the book, because as I say in the first sentences of chapter one: “I wasn’t always a liar, a thief and a cheater with a death wish. It’s not like from an early age I dreamed of becoming a heroin addict when I grew up, nor could I ever imagine a simple shoelace would be the genesis of a new life.” There’s a lot of clues as to why I called the book that, but only a few people know why, but I firmly our lives all have shoestring “moments” – if we are paying attention. I was as hard headed and stupid as they come, so God kind of lost patience with me and backhanded me across the face – but not until I put in the tiniest bit of effort to help myself. A friend urged me to do that, he would NOT help me, and there is your technically ‘bad’ deed being beautiful. Brendan got a lot of positive karma for that one.

This time around, I want to help people, and my words are pure. I have some good ideas for long ranged plans with this book, especially centered around the title. I did 12 Steps. I am not a Kool-Aid drinker, I am not in a cult. I do not go to a meeting 7 days a week, and while I will thank God and take any amount of ridicule from someone who does not believe, I am not thumping Bibles or standing on street corners telling you to accept Jesus.

What I am doing is living spiritually, to the best of my abilities. God has a name for me, it’s God. I do not get into religion, never have, never will. My actions are, for the most part examined and selfless. The more I grow, the more being selfless is simply my reaction to a situation. Religions threaten me with hell, reincarnation as a dog in Korea, whatever. If you understand how living in shame, giving away morality for a fix, not having anyone in the world to turn to, we are on the same path, the one leading out of hell. We have been there and survived. We meet and this clicks for you because we are all part of something bigger.

Anyway, I am taking all of life as it comes, doing the work, and constantly grateful. For heartbeats and breaths, for smiles and sunrises, for that spiritual connection that lets me know, that stranger is part of this bigger thing, say hello and offer to listen. If a few bucks helps, do it, sometimes a pack of cigarettes can save a man. I should know.

Anyway, this is relaxation weekend for me! And so that you don’t have to scroll to the top for the link, here you go: BUY SHOESTRING THEORIES

P.S. Kindle version will be available Monday, June 22, 2015.

Buddha says: No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
Peace and Love and Love Peace,
MFJ

Not So Much About the Time, but God’s Grace

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Today marked a year in recovery for me. It is also the publishing date for my book, Shoestring Theories, if Amazon would ever process and approve my cover, prominently displayed above.

Writing a memoir is not easy, because it can’t just be a factual log of events, it has to reflect the human condition, where there is some sort of transformation. Whether it’s seeing the beauty in the chaos, almost every memoir I’ve read is about overcoming adversity. They are relatable, they are hopefully inspirational.

The amount of introspection though is daunting, and an anniversary in recovery is something I have NEVER  experienced. It is a humbling experience to say the least, the amount of love in my life today versus a year ago is unquantifiable. If you have read the prologue to the memoir, you know where I was- broken, desperate and hopeless, and what those feelings of complete emptiness produced as a logical solution.

June of 2014, I weighed 130 pounds, had no home, no food, no money, no safety, no friends, and wanted to die. A selfish, self-seeking scumbag, never giving a thought to how to help someone else, but only in what I can gain from them.

June of 2015, I’m fat, and grateful for that, a home, enough money to keep the necessities met, help another person if I can, am safe, secure and at peace. I have a ton of friends, I can’t imagine not cherishing every day, to get another opportunity to help my fellow man. The world right now is completely fucked up- race, religion and sexual orientation dividing us, dumbing us down into the animal I was.

Religion and God to me are two different things. Man made religion, it’s capitalism using faith, or worse, politically motivating for private gains, be it war or power. You can damn me to hell, you have every right to do so, but the news is I have been there and survived, so really, nothing you can do or say to me is going to affect me.

So here I am, grateful for prayers answered in, at the time at least, unseen ways. A few people know why this book is called Shoestring Theories, the majority do not. I promise you it will blow you away when you finally get there. The point though is not that my story is unique in anyway, but that there is indeed order in the perceived chaos.

God plays a huge role in my story. I don’t call him anything, because he is everything. He dwells inside us all, that gut instinct, that undeniable sense of right and wrong, it’s there. We just lose sight of it. If there’s a spiritual highway, mine had more than potholes on it. huge sections crumbled,  some were swallowed by sinkholes, throw in some detours over fallen bridges, well, it took a long time to get home.

In the end, the road I was on probably had no possible way to be repaired. I was shown a better way, for that I am light years beyond grateful. While so many stress over being fashionable, I am content being clothed. While so many preach a great game, I endeavor to play an even greater one. Kind of like LeBron saying he’s the greatest versus Jordan never wanting the tag, respecting the other men he competed against saying were great.

Life is about humility, gratitude and altruism, for me, because not only does that grant me peace, it delivers me happiness. Maybe the world could all benefit from some steps.