Epiphany Shmiphany

June 20, 2011

 

I’ve been waiting to sit down and write about an “epiphany” I had a little over a week ago. Epiphany. For such a soft word that is almost pretty as it rolls through my mouth it is a powerful word. I’ve had these changes in attitude and  realizations ( a harsher sounding word that’s way less powerful). I was basically going to tell you about the “epiphany” that I have told you about and have experiences over and over. I guess I should mention it briefly then move on, huh?

 

I was watching a documentary about Hubert Selby Jr, author of classic novels like Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream that were made into fantastic movies, about a week and a half ago. Learning about the struggles of the life of an artist is just rehashing what I already knew. An artist is born that way. Born to struggle through life so he can create art. That is his purpose and contribution to life. In a world of money oriented and materialistic people, we the artists, are giving instead of taking. As soon as we share our creations with at least one other person our art is art.

 

Ok, I’m not going to go on on and on about my purpose in life and your role in it. Basically I was just reminded of what I need to remember and keep forgetting. The struggle is the burden and consistency and I have to comment, react and create from it then give t away.

 

“I am an American artist I have no shame.” Patti Smith

 

The past few weeks have been terrifying, incredible, amusing, and on and off weird.

 

I’ll start with right now. At this moment I am sitting inside a coffee shop in Collingswood, NJ. I just finished talking to a friend I’ve hung out with only a few times but when we see each other there is this bond we have and we end up in deep conversations about art, music, addiction and sometimes the meaning of life itself. Ha. He’s in a similar situation as me and we always get along.

 

I went to the welfare office at 7 am this morning and spent over 2 hours trying to get some kind of assistance. I followed it up with a visit to unemployment to waste another hour or 2. It wasn’t a complete waste. My unemployment is back on. I just had to fight for the weeks they held back. This is fantastic news after waiting almost a month without the money and bills are adding up.

 

When you’re broke. Really broke. You start thinking about every coffee, donut, dinner out, pizza delivered, soda, etc and you over analyze what you wasted money in the past while still spending the same money on the same things. Oh yeah, the air conditioning is killing my roommate and me. Both he and my landlord suggested I turn it off and leave the house each day and hang at a coffee shop or somewhere with internet connections. These days that’s pretty much every coffee shop and eve restaurants and bars.

 

I went home after the unemployment office. It was about noon. 5 hours spent on trying to get help and it was semi successful. I still had the entire day ahead of me. I still do. I rubbed one off watching Judge Pierno or whatever her name is to relax. Not long after I got a phone call from the lady I spoke with at the unemployment office to tell me that all of the past money owed to me will come through. I was more floored by the fact that the woman called me back as soon as she found out than I was about the money. That was just really nice. I was ready to get out again and head to the pharmacy and then relax at the coffee shop. I am relaxed despite the caffeine.

 

I just ran into a girl I knew from a group I used to attend. Young, beautiful and great body and she is a fellow writer. A talented writer. I had such a crush on her a while back. I had so many fantasies about her in the past few years. I haven’t seen her since this past winter when I fist grew my beard and hair long and she called me a Wooly Mammoth and I was embarrassed and I was already anxious borderline agoraphobic. Weird. It was just a cute little name-calling and borderline flirtation that helped speed up my already progressing reclusiveness.

 

Irony. Now that I am leaving the house I run into the girl that I not only had a crush on but made me not want to go out anymore. I have to admit when I first laid eyes on her I got a little anxious and I pretended not to see her. I wanted to hide and jump up and call her name. I didn’t. I went back to writing what you just read. What I just wrote. I felt comfortable when she approached me on her way out. She was actually working, looking for a story to cover for one of the publications she writes for.

 

We talked a little bit about writing and how good it was to see each other then she left and here I am. This is the message of my writing today. Random events that mean nothing and mean everything to me.

 

When I got here I randomly started talking to a guy I never met before about misery versus happiness. I happen to be learning and relearning that life is a struggle and it’s what you put into it. This is before I met the others here today.

 

Last week I went to Philly to sell my cds to a shop where I’ve known the owner for a while. We had a great talk and he gave me a great price and I left a happy man. I wandered to a coffee shop I’d never been to greeted by 3  barista angels that worked the registers and coffee machines. People talked to me and greeted me like I was someone. I grabbed my drink and tipped then sat right outside so I could smoke. Huh… I haven’t had a cigarette yet since I entered the coffee shop. Usually I jump right out side and smoke. If I did that I wouldn’t have run into my friends. Shit. Now I want a cigarette. . .  .

 

*Dramatic pause for Rich Hillen Jr’s cigarette break*

 

Great smoke break. I’m texting my friend maybe girlfriend that lives in New Orleans all about my day. She’s another story. We’ve been talking about moving in for a while but we can’t afford it yet. A long drive and she has a pooch.

 

Just 3 weeks ago (maybe 2 and a half weeks) I was so desperate and stressed about my financial condition and it’s slowly pulling itself together.

 

Once I had my “epiphany”, I felt better over all and knew things will work out if I make the effort and try not to feel or come off desperate. I was ready.

 

My roommate told me about a music shop in Collingswood that would probably give me a good deal on my amp I’ve wanted to sell. I headed out one night to sell the amp and I ran out of gas within 4 blocks from the store. I laughed. My gas gage isn’t always working right and it says that there is less gas than is in there. I was on empty and was planning to get gas after I sold the amp.

 

This teenager appeared out of nowhere and started pushing my car. We couldn’t budge it for some reason. I was a foot from the corner street wedged on the curb. I called my close friend that lived in Collingswood and he was on the road going to a show and couldn’t help. I was pretty far from a gas station. I racked my brain finding someone in the area that could and would help me out.

 

I called my filmmaker friend who I’ve worked with on a few projects and he came through for me. I was still in a decent mood. I was also lucky enough to have had a gas container. So my friend picked me up, took me to the gas station and back to my car. It worked out because he wanted to talk to me about his upcoming projects. Just as we pulled up near my abandoned giant red beat-up 1994 Lincoln Towncar there was a Mini-Cooper in front of it and my cell phone rang with an unrecognized number. I just said to my friend that it looks like my mom’s friend’s car and it was my mom on his cell phone. I laughed again. My mom and her friend were parked there checking to see if I was ok. I was. They left. It was starting to get windy and a storm was on the way. I gassed the car up, thanked my friend and drove off to get gas.

 

I debated going to the music shop because of the gas problem and the storm brewing. I went anyway. It was a great decision. There were 2 women sitting in there with a guy that worked there. I jumped right to business and didn’t even check out the ladies. I wanted money. I knew exactly how much I wanted for it and the guy looked at and tested it. He left to get the owner to look at it and appraise it. While he was gone I looked at one of the now noticeably pretty women and she said “Hi Rich.” I knew those eyes of hers. It’s been over 20 years but you don’t forget her eyes. I said hi and I was a little uncomfortable yet happy. Memories rushed through my head of all of the nights I hung out with her, her friend and my weirdo friend. Many drinks and many other things. I tripped on acid with this girl at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She was at my college graduation party. One night we got really stoned and went back to her place to look at her art (she was an incredible artist). We had a most memorable passionate night that we agreed not to tell anyone about. I wonder if it made it special because it was a one-time deal. It doesn’t matter. Here she was face to face 20 years later and looked the same.

 

I knew she lived in the area for years and heard about her musician boyfriend/fiancé through a friend of mine. I did run into her once 10-12 years ago and it was a brief conversation because we both had somewhere to go. So you can probably guess who owned the music shop I was standing in hoping to make a buck from. It was the infamous boyfriend/fiancé or whatever. Then I talked to him about the people we had in common. We talked after he paid me righteously for the amp of course. I left feeling good.

 

Then came the storm as I was leaving. A physical storm followed that Sunday afternoon after “helping” out my uncle who is really my great aunt’s live in boyfriend clean offices. I pulled muscles in my arms and shoulders. This triggered my infamous Trigeminal Disorder. The pain was at its’ worst since I was first diagnosed with it in 2005. I was running out of pain meds and I couldn’t refill them for a week. I took migraine aspirin and sleep aids. I spent most of the next 3 days away to escape the explosions in my face. I was in extreme pain for 3 days then the recovery took a day or 2. I was finally back in the world and that’s when I sold my cds and hung out in Philly.

 

This past Saturday I did my usual “helping” out my uncle whose not my uncle. Afterward, I met up with my adopted mother, the one that raised me, to have lunch in honor of my adopted father whose 2nd year death anniversary that also fell on Father’s Day. We were supposed to meet up the next day but she changed her mind and we had a great dinner and conversation.

 

On my way out I ran into another friend I’ve known for years sitting on a bench and I voluntarily joined him. This is a big step for me to be social and I hung out with him for an hour in the hot sun drinking an iced coffee from Starbucks. I was in a good mood. I headed home and watched some movies and did a little writing.

 

Sunday was Father’s day and my adopted father’s death anniversary. It was an awkward day. Having 2 dads can be difficult. My focus was on the dead one who raised me and not my biological father who came back in my life as an adult and has been there for my for over 20 years now. I called him and text him. We decided we will celebrate when I can afford it. It ended nicely.

 

Shit. This was a random bit of writing that went on forever. If you’re still reading, God bless you and thank you for sharing my life as it’s still spinning in and out of Epiphanies, pain, poverty, good memories and hopes of tomorrow, meanwhile, living in the moment no mater how good or bad it gets.

 

Ride on.

 

Right on.

 

Write on.

 

 


Philadelphia (poem)

June 17, 2011

I sit on the corner coffee shop in Philadelphia.

 

I drink my iced coffee and smoke a few cigarettes thinkng.

 

Sometimes I thrive on the city. Sometimes I feel unfocused and anxious.

 

I can’t take the noise and population.

 

I love the noise and population.

 

The smell, sounds, taxtes and smells of the city.

 

I forgot how much I love the city.

 

I forgot how much I hate the city.

 

People.

 

Lovely people of all varieties.

 

Business people finishing their work and off to their secret place of dreams or desperate escape from their lives.

 

Girls in their tiny dresses and skirts showing everything and meaning nothing except a passing memory I will forget as I look around.

 

Homeless people politely screaming fro something. A cigarette. A dollar. For a minute our minds meet. I see they are me. Could be me. Maybe already is me.

 

Forget about money.

 

Worry about money.

A group of kids hanging out. Just hanging on the corner is fun for them.

 

It’s fun for me.

 

It’s pain for me.

 

Philadelphia, I cry to you.

 

I scream like the homeless person to you. . .

 

If only the city could help me. . .

 

Someday I want to be the city.


Live Book Reading from Yellow Socks Video

April 29, 2011

Now you can read it yourself. Just click the Yellow Socks cover pic.


3 Strangers

April 19, 2011

I just had a random conversation with random strangers. I was at a local convenience store called WaWa and was on my way out and over heard a young college age white blond girl talking to a well dressed middle aged black woman positioned at each car next to mine. The older woman was telling the younger one to go to Chic Filet to try the new banana pudding milkshake. I had just heard about this because my mom gave me a coupon for a free one. I butted in and the next thing you know we were all talking about vegetarianism. We all had a momentary common bond. Each one of us were vegetarians for 2 years and went off the wagon. We al had different meats of choice that pulled us back but we agreed that it was weird that 3 complete strangers, different ages and cultures had that one common bond. We said goodbye and went our separate ways and chances are that we probably will never see each other again and probably wouldn’t recognize each other anyway.


I Lost a Day

February 3, 2011

I lost a day. An entire day went by and I missed it. I slept 24 hour straight. I don’t remember the last time I did this if ever. It makes sense because the past few weeks I’ve been having days and nights of no sleep at all. My body is changing and changing. My mind is sharp at times and then dull as a board as they say. Whoever they are. I went to bed Tuesday night. Actually it was Wednesday morning at 4:30 am, which used to be the average time to go to bed. I woke up 3 time between then and 4:30 am today, Thursday. Each time I woke up I couldn’t stay awake. I feel ok now. I am not going to fret over missing a day of life but I acknowledge that it happened.

I’m adjusting to life in my new mental and physical condition. Sometimes I am able to fight it and other times I have to surrender to it. I never know when the depression, mania, anxiety or my face pain from the Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) is going to act up. It seems I’ve been suffering from one or another every single day for months. Some of my conditions worsen with age and I am getting older. Nothing I have has a cure. All I can do is band-aid it and try to move on. I move on.

There are some things I should be doing and hopefully I’ll get to them. I know should quit smoking, cut my caffeine, exercise and eat better. I need to see the doctor more often. In time I’m sure these things are going to happen for health or financial reasons.

I’m over the fact that I missed a day but it kind of blew my mind at first. The concept of losing a day is baffling. I’m a short term Rip Van Winkle. My beard and hair is growing and I am a little unbalanced about what day it is sometimes. I’ll get over it or used to it. Maybe it will go away.

I have to wake up, whatever time that is, and accept what I am for the day whether that is. What I mean is accept the downs and the ups and the pain or whatever the above-mentioned disorders I have for the day. So far I’m doing an ok job accepting myself as is and changing what I can for the day. For today.


Day 3 of No Job Training. A Loser or a Sick Person?

January 22, 2011

Well the decision was made or not made. Not sure at this point. Either way I didn’t go into work today. Read my previous blogs to catch up if you haven’t. Maybe I need to over the situation one more time for myself so bear with me..

 

I was at the end of the line with my financial resources. I had just enough in the bank after cashing in my 401ks and the little unemployment I receive to pay a few months rent. I pushed it to the limit and my friend suggested I try doing collections where he worked because they were considering offering employees to work from home. Remote calling I believe it’s called. I liked this because my car is old and not running at it’s best.

 

It took weeks from the suggestion to get the interview back in November 2010. It went well because I have 10 years experience in telephone sales. I discovered that I was going to have to travel there and working from home wouldn’t be a possibility for several months. The manager told me he would call me the next week and I would start work either the last week of December 2010 or the first week of January 2011. I was excited. I thought I was. From what I heard I could make a lot more money than I’ve made in along time. Great.

 

The first week went by and not phone call so I called the manager. He apologized and said it’s real busy and he would call me next week. Next week came and I called him once on Wednesday and left a message and then on Friday and left another message, My friend said that the manager told him he was going to call. To sum it up it was several weeks before I knew anything and that was because my friend bugged the manager and I got the confirmation in a forwarded email. No phone call. So I was finally supposed to start this past Tuesday. I got a phone call from the manager Monday to postpone my start date to Wednesday.

 

Meanwhile, after a 2 year remission of a chronic facial disorder I have came back. It’s called Trigeminal Neuralgia(TM). Refer to my previous blogs about it or look it up. It’s known as the worst pain known t man. It was the reason I quit telephone sales over 8 years ago. I had to go back on pain medications again. My sleep pattern has been screwed up since last Thursday because of the pain and the meds. I also suffer the usual anxiety that seems to creep up on me for no reason a lot of times.

 

I made it to my first day of training barely on time with a decent sleep under my belt. It went decent. I still had anxiety and face pain. I went home and was excited or I thought I was excited to get through the training and start making money. I couldn’t get to sleep until 2 am Thursday morning. I didn’t have to be in work until 10:30 am and it seemed like no problem except I was still in pain and on my meds as directed I might add. I kept waking up through the night. I got up around 5 or 6 am and stayed up for an hour then went back to sleep. I woke up at 12:10 pm in panic. I called the manager immediately and left a message on his cell phone to see if I should bother coming in. I called again on his business line 30 minutes later. I called my friend that worked there who happened to be on vacation. He told me to just go in. I would be 3 hours late. It made no sense. I called 2 more times before I made the trip. He answered and said he was disappointed and how I missed the most important part of the training. Then the phone was disconnected. I heard the “firing” tone in his voice. I called him back 2 or 3 times with no answer. I am convinced he hung up on me.

 

So I went through every possible emotion yesterday and then talked to a friend about it. I really didn’t want to tell anyone. He told me I should just go in on time on Friday to see what would happen. I was convinced I was done. I called another friend that agreed that I should go in. All I had to lose was a long drive. I was going back and forth on it all night. My face got worse. My anxiety got worse. I was determined to go to sleep early and get up early and make the decision then. Yes. I am still awake and still in pain. I didn’t go. My face pain and anxiety made the decision for me. I’m 99% sure I was already fired anyway,

 

I spent the past 2 months fantasizing, planning and setting goals based on the potential money I would have made there. I wanted to invest it in my other projects, pay off bills and save money. Now I’m back to square 1 wondering if I can keep any job between my anxiety, my TM, my Bipolar disorder and apparently a sleeping problem.

 

I really have changed. I admit that I have always judged people that didn’t work for a living. I couldn’t understand people that were unemployed, collecting social security, disability or on welfare. I didn’t understand people that had anxiety disorders, mental illnesses, social problems and even in some cases chronic pain disorders that I can’t see. I understood physical handicaps like blindness, in wheelchairs, etc. Now I’ve become one of the people I used to judge and didn’t understand. I have a day-to-day struggle trying to understand myself. I don’t. I don’t understand my illnesses both physical and mental.

 

I’m not writing this and telling you this for sympathy or to get attention. I write what’s on my mind and post it out of a compulsion. It’s the way I think out loud sometimes. Times like this I hesitate posting it knowing that you may judge me the way I judged others in my position.

 

I was raised with a work ethic believe it or not. I still exercise it everyday by writing and creating and consistently promoting and managing my websites etc. That’s my problem with identifying and relating to my current conditions. My adopted parents raised me to get to work on time and do my job to the best of my abilities. I hear m mother’s voice telling me to work. She has said judgmental things like “I don’t want you to be one of those people that doesn’t work and lives off of the system.” The problem is I agree with her and I think I am fine and then I am not fine. I am not fucking fine.

 

I am in a long process of learning and trying to understand myself and what’s wrong with me and what’s right with me. What are my limitations? What can I work through. I get all kinds of advice bout my diet, my cigarette smoking, lack of exercise, etc. That’s fine. I’m sure all that would help but there is much more going on.

 

I’m not miserable. I have a lot of happy moments. It’s just a struggle in my head and my body at times that I have to deal with.

 

My main concern right now is whether I will be able to handle working a real job or not. This TM can go into remission for 10 years to the rest of my life or it can continue forever. I have a friend that has had over 6 surgeries to treat her TM. My mental problems can be controlled to a point with medication and awareness of it.

 

I have full confidence that my immediate bills will be paid and I can figure out a way to make money on my own without a “job”. I’m just not there yet and I have to keep on keeping on and deal with my issues. That’s it for now I guess. Thanks for reading.


Dr Martin Luther King Jr – Ends Justify the Means

January 17, 2011

“Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African American civil rights movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. King is often presented as a heroic leader in the history of modern American liberalism.” Wikipedia

 

I wanted to write something about Dr Martin Luther King Jr today. The day where city officials and government offices among many other businesses get a day off to celebrate this man’s great accomplishments in the civil rights movement. No. Most people enjoy their day off and spend the day shopping for all of the Martin Luther King sales. I don’t usually think about it either and just go on with my day too.

 

A few years ago someone told me interesting facts about Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Facts about his lying, plagiarism, cheating, infidelity and much more. The past few days I’ve been reading about Dr King and found many pages that dug up a lot of dirt on him. It was all referenced and seemed legitimate. I was going to focus on what a flawed man he was on the very day Americans should be thinking of him. Then I was just going to list a lot of links about him.

 

I decided against it. It would be going against my own beliefs. I’ve written about this before and discussed it with many people. I would start with the question “If the end results are good, does it really matter the motivation or the intent behind them?” In my opinion a good deed is a geed deed. OK, if a person breaks the law and the end result helps someone it is in question. It depends what kind of law. Murder, rape, and stealing most likely wouldn’t justify the ends. People are people. It is ridiculous to expect anyone to be perfect. Most of us have gone against our own morals and expectations. We’ve all made mistakes.

 

Here are a few examples in my own life and people I know. Say I help someone out with money. I tell them it’s a gift. Then I brag about it to make myself look like a great person. I secretly expect them to owe me a favor even though I told the person I didn’t. Do my expectations and intent take away from the good deed? A guy I know comes off self-righteous to me. He is constantly doing good for people and is not only a brags about it he but he preaches to everyone he knows that they should do the same. Meanwhile he also violates many of the morals and the principles he pushes on others. Do the ends justify the means? Absolutely. You can’t take away the good he has done despite his self-righteousness and hypocrisy. Ok, maybe these are minor examples but they illustrate the point.

 

I realized that I don’t care what the man who influenced and inspired so many people and made a major contribution to the civil rights movement did behind the curtains or in the past. No one can change what Dr Martin Luther King has done for this country. The ends once again justify the means.

 


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