The Artsy Girl – an Excerpt from my novel Yellow Socks

July 11, 2011

The Artsy Girl (as it originally appeared in Yellow Socks: Confessions of a Non-Don Juan)

 

Living with Terry and Morton was a blast. They were both in their early thirties and I was in my late twenties. We are all artists in one way or another and we were all on the prowl for the ladies as we clumsily tried to pick them up at coffee shops, AA meetings, bars, art shows and anywhere else we thought that we could find our type.

 

Our types varied. Terry was obsessed with finding a “Vampire chick” or a “Goth Chick’. Ironically he dressed kind of standard 1988 in 1995. He had that bob cut hair. It was kind of long on the sides and real short in the back. Morton was after the “Rocker Chick Slut” or the “New Age Hippie chick.” He usually dressed the part either wearing his new age outfit or his Rock star clothes. He had long black died hair. As for me, I stood by with my usual requirements: any good-looking girl that actually liked me. We rarely found what we were looking for after obsessing day and night about these fantasy girls we would never have. We had fun in our bonding of failures with the ladies.

 

We all lived in a house that Terry owned in a town on the outskirts of Camden, NJ. It was a poor neighborhood and was becoming racially mixed. It was mostly poor minorities and white trash. The chances of ever seeing hot chicks that fit our tastes were next to impossible.

 

Then she appeared. A young girl of maybe seventeen walked by our house every day around 5:30 pm. She dressed a little on the “alternative” side. It was around the end of the grunge years and that’s when the poor neighborhoods usually take over a style is when the middle class is done with it. Always a step behind. Kind of like us. So Terry nicknamed her the “Artsy Girl” because he says she dresses artsy. It was a style that was once artsy but not now. The three of us became obsessed with her. Everyday at 5:30 one of us would call to the others “Artsy Girl!” and we’d all come running to the kitchen window to see her.

 

“Artsy Girl!” I said.

 

“Where?” Terry said.

 

“I don’t see her. Did I miss her?” Morton said.

 

“Stop fucking with us, man. This is the highlight of our day. We don’t need to be teased.” Terry said.

 

“Sorry. I just think that it’s funny that we all start salivating the minute someone rings the Artsy Girl bell.” I said.

 

She was cute in her little flowered dresses and her Doc Martins. She had medium length reddish brown hair and pretty brown eyes.

 

One day I was walking home from the train and I ended up walking home with her. She didn’t acknowledge ever seeing me before. Thank God. She didn’t know what a letch I was. Her name was Megan. She just got out of High School. She was going to start working at the local convenience store. I was going to hit on her then I realized that she was just a regular little girl. That’s ok but not for me. When we got to my house I felt sadness in her eyes that I was going home without hitting on her or asking her for her phone number. After getting to know her the thrill of the “Artsy Girl” vanished. I realized that I am not the letch I thought. She was too young and too inexperienced in life.

 

I still fucked with the roommates though. I still gave them the mating call of the Artsy Girl. They still kept a running. I never felt the same again.

Purchase your copy of Yellow Socks; Confessions of a Non-Don Juan here.


Mental Illness, Death & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

April 2, 2011

It’s been a while since I wrote anything personal or what’s going on in my life and posted it. So many changes and so many things staying the same.

 

I’ve been a shut in. I’ve been anti-social. I’ve been out of my mind with my Bipolar. I’ve had the face pain from the Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) on and off.  My anxiety Disorder has been acting up. My thoughts and feelings about life in general have fluctuated so much that it’s been rough to focus and complete anything. I have so many writings started and then I get distracted from my ailments. So, I’ve been pretty much working on various novels I’ve been working on forever and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ha.

 

It might sound funny but that’s what’s been getting me through the past month or so. I’ve been watching the series from season 1 on. Honestly it is a fantastic show. Well, it was a fantastic show. Underneath the goofiness, the vampires and demons etc., there is depth to the characters that I’ve been able to relate to and I’ve been opening up my feelings about life to myself.

 

I’ve been so disconnected for a long time that my emotions and relationships with people have died. I literally stopped caring about anyone or anything. My memories started cooperating. I started losing memories. My entire life experiences became a distant fog.

 

The final blow was when I started training for a job after 6 months of unemployment and I blew it on the second day. My TN acted up and I was up  all night and took my pain meds. I woke up 2 hours after I was supposed to be there. Since I was 14 or 15 I have always had a job. I’ve even had my own businesses. It was a real blow to me that my illnesses might be severe enough to keep me from holding a steady job. I fell deeper into my denial fog.

 

When I started watching Buffy I started to relive personal experiences that I’ve repressed and didn’t want to deal with. Lost loves, lost relatives, lost jobs, etc. It still seems corny that a cult TV series would start bringing me back to life but it did.

 

A few days ago my Aunt died. She was the one that helped me stop drinking and got me into “recovery”. I stopped going and believing in the 12 steps months ago and now that she’s gone it brought up everything. I remembered everyone that I’ve lost. I am questioning my part in life. In other people’s lives. In the 12 step program itself.

 

It’s tough to lose someone again. Someone I love and had such a strong impact on my life. It’s been really painful lately both emotionally and physically. It’s also been a good thing because it makes me feel human again. Although I can give a good appearance most of the time, overall, I have been out of my mind and almost completely numb. I’ve been repressing my fear, doubts, pains, my very existence. I was beyond hopeless in my mind.

 

I finally feel human again. Just by letting go emotionally I came out of hiding. Vicariously living in this TV show I actually woke up from my fog. Memories, feelings and motivation are surging through me now. I feel like I have a chance at life again.

 

I’m going to go finish watching Buffy save the world again and get another recharge. Ha.


Acceptance is the Answer to myyyy…….. Blah!

December 16, 2010

“Life is great. My head’s a mess” I said when asked how I was doing by someone I haven’t seen in while.

He knew exactly what I was talking about. You see usually in the 12 step groups I go to people that are recovering usually say the opposite. Life is horrible but I’m doing well. I can handle life on life’s terms. So can I. I can’t handle my mind on my mind’s terms all of the time.

I’m a changed man. For better and for worse. A few years ago I went through some major mind altering changes. I was drugged for Psychiatric reasons and for physical reasons. I was in a horrible relationship that we both knew was horrible but kept fighting to stay with each other. As the relationship drew to an end and the drugs were affecting me more and more I turned into  recluse. I didn’t want to be bothered with anything or anybody. I went to work, I came home and wrote a bit then that was it. I ended up relapsing and gave up 16 years of sobriety. I hit bottom pretty fast emotionally and spiritually so I went t the people I knew could help me. I got help.

I was more than eager to change my life and people saw it. I got better in the emotional and spiritual sense but I remained a recluse. I soon moved back in with my parents for financial reasons and to help my ill adopted father. I always have to clarify that since I actively see my biological dad. That’s another story. My adopted father died the middle of last year and I stayed with my mother. Despite my sadness and increased anxiety at work and home I kept on writing and living. I found myself going out less and less.

This past year has been one of major growth and acceptance. My mind is still ut of control at times no matter what I feed it.

Long story short too late as an old friend used to say) I lost my job of 6 years, came into some money, finished and published my first novel, collected and republished my Serial Killer Coloring Book, moved out of my adopted mom’s into a 2 bedroom house with a friend, started a new business venture (http:novaboon.com) with my friend and housemate, I landed a high paying new job,  and just today there was an article in the Philadelphia City Paper about me and my evolution into a novelist. It was in reality a great year. I don’t always feel that great about it but the facts are the facts. I still get anxious, manic and depressed at times. I’ve grown a beard and my hair a bit to match my mood and it seems to fit. I’ve taken a liking to being alone. I am the opposite of everything I used to be.

I have also developed a slight agoraphobia. I have panic attacks when I go into public sometimes. It’s unpredictable but for some reason when I have to be somewhere like work or something I get by. It’s the social settings that get me, Then again I can get anxiety just sitting on the couch or driving my car.

I recently thought of something my adopted father once told me. “Learn to accept yourself. The good points and the bad things. Accept who you are.” He said. This is exactly what I am going through now. I am in the process of accepting myself for who I am right now. I am not the same person I used to be. I don’t care what people think for the most part.

“life is great and my head is a mess” but I have accepted myself for who I am anxious or not.

 


Spirituality and Mental Illness

September 16, 2010

Having mental and physical disorders and maintaining a spiritual balance can be difficult and confusing to say the least. How can I suffer these horrible feelings with a loving God in my life?

First of all, let me tell you my concept of God or a higher power of my understanding as they refer to it in 12 step programs. I tend to over complicate and think too much about certain things yet I find life is easier when I dumb myself and make things simple and easy to understand. For instance I have a God in my life that probably differs from the one you have. He is simple and easy to understand because I would drive myself nuts otherwise. It’s a blind faith in a being outside of me that guides me, helps me and is there with me no matter what. I call him or her God out of mere convenience. It’s a more palatable name for most people and the most common reference amongst my peers. Personally, it doesn’t matter what I call Him or Her or even It. The point is that somewhere along the way of my struggles I discovered that there is this power greater than myself that works in my life.

I spent so many years bashing religion and even God because of the hypocrisy of it all. It didn’t make sense that followers of God no matter what religion were pushy and didn’t live up to what they preached. Once I entered a 12 step program for drinking and drug addiction I found that I had to have a “God” in my life or else I was destined to die if I continued on my downward spiral of a life or worse I would live to watch it crash and prolong my inner agony.

My God is pretty vague and unspecific. I am open to the fact that it might be something inside of me acting as as God or it could be the electrons in the air I breathe. God could be anything and I don’t want ot bother myself with details. The one that I pray to works for me for the most part. I took a leap of blind faith and it works. I found that the more I did to help others and to remain on a path of righteousness I felt better. I could go on and on about my reliance of God. The important thing to me is I found a “God” that works for me most of the time. I try to work for him. Faith without works is dead as the religionists say.

Here’s the rub. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and anxiety. Sometimes, the anxiety gets real bad. I can pray all I want and it doesn’t go away. It’s the same when I am depressed or manic. I’ve learned that it’s part of my life and who I am and I have to accept it and go through the pains and take my medications and don’t blame or get mad at God. Otherwise I’ll give up on Him and then I’ll have no God and go back to old behaviors and probably drinking and doing drugs.

A friend of mine who suffers from similar things warned me about praying during episodes of anxiety. He said I could get angry and lose faith if I’m not careful. I have to take action to take care of my “mental illness”  as I refer to it.

That’s how Ideal with it. I pray everyday to an unspecific power that I call God asking for his direction for the day. If I have any anxiety, depression or mania I don’t expect him to remove it immediately. I take my medication and do the things I was taught to handle it like eat and talk about it to someone. Overall it makes my spiritual life stronger and my mental breakdowns and anxiety is tolerable. Deep inside I know He’s with me through the pains of life and I have accept the terms I have been given.

The best phrases I’ve heard and used, as corny as they sound, are one day at a time and this too shall pass. I remember this no matter what I am feeling and going through and in the end I come out better.

I am happy and grateful despite my handicaps due to my strong faith in a God that may or may not exist. It doesn’t matter. He works with me and for me if I ask. Just not in the time frame I want.


“I Think I Get More Enthusiasm From My House Plants . . .ha”

June 30, 2010

“I think I get more enthusiasm from my house plants…ha” she wrote me in an email.

She ended it with that. She basically told me flake or no flake that she feels like she’s wasting her time on me. It wasn’t worth much more effort on her part because I don’t seem interested in it at all. I was. I am. I’m just a flake. No. There’s more to it than that. That word is a cop out.

I just don’t seem to be real enthused about meeting new people even though I make the effort. I keep starting new relationships and then fade out or put it off. Whether it’s dating or hanging out with close friends I just put things off or don’t follow through on getting together, returning phone calls or emails. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a guy, girl or in between. Ha. I guess it’s not a good time for me.

I can make excuses like I’m self-absorbed and into my writing and other creative projects. I’m depressed. I’m bipolar. I’m an Alcoholic. I’m a drug addict. The anniversary of my father’s death recently passed. I’m unemployed. These facts are all true but they are just excuses. I deal with these issues daily. Generally speaking I am happy for the most part. I just can’t seem to take interest in socializing outside of my comfy little internet realm or at 12 step meetings.

I have to go to the meetings to help maintain my sobriety, spiritual level and help others. I get to socialize as a bonus. I have to socialize there. When I was working it was also a forced socialization with my co-workers that I liked dearly and the customers I could take or leave.

Sometimes I leave social situations in a bad mood, sad or depressed for some reason. Even though I receive the validation I used to crave, I don’t really care about it anymore. Like I’ve written before I don’t know what’s happened to me in the past few years but I am a different person. I’m ok with it overall but it’s so noticeable that it concerns me sometimes. Isn’t life supposed to be a mix of inner reflection and socialization? Are we not as humans born social creatures?

Maybe it’s the internet that’s changed me. I can have all sorts of relationships and socialization without leaving the comforts of my living space, my mind and my feelings. I don’t have to face people when I’m down or too happy. I can be whoever I want to be on a social networking site. I end up being me anyway. I can be self centered and write about me and promote my projects without interruptions. I don’t have to listen to other people talk about their trips or interests. Don’t get em wrong, more than half the time I am interested in listening to other people once I’m in a social situation. Other people can be interesting but sometimes I just don’t feel like it. I also leave the situation feeling down for no reason.

The past ten to fifteen years I have been dealing with people in my life that are as flaky if not flakier than me. They cant commit to anything. They don’t show or cancel all of the time. They do the same exact things that I’ve been doing and it used to drive me nuts. I learned ot accept that few people do what they say they are going to do or won’t say because they know they won’t follow through. Now I’m one of them. My motto used to be “a commitment means –come hell or high water I will be there”. Now it seems to be this wishy washy decision that I put off to the last minute. I usually back out.

I don’t know if this has to change or not. I was forcing myself out socially at least once a week to try and be a social human being again. After a few months I stopped. I go out when I have to and once in a while if I feel like it. I return emails when I feel like it. I pay bills just on time at the last minute. I do chores at the last minute when I have to. Like I’ve said repeatedly I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s working for me so far so I shouldn’t really worry about it. I just don’t want to lose friends and become a total recluse. I might enjoy it for a while but I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life.

I’m going to try and be more social and bring more enthusiasm than a house plant to the table. I love life and I love people so something has to change. Meanwhile I plan on staying home all day writing and such an go out later to a meeting.


God Spoke to me Last Night . . .

June 13, 2010

God spoke to me last night.

“Rich,” he said.

I was surprised that he knew my name.

“Rich, you are a miracle. You are special to me. You are loved by me and by many others.” He said.

I listened. His voice was powerful and soothing. Energetic like a self-help guru yet more down to earth.

“My son, I want you to know that your talent and wisdom can take you a long way if you use it rightly. With great power comes great responsibility.” He continued.

“I read that in Spider-Man comic books years ago.” I said.

“You’re not Spider-Man but you are a unique and special snowflake with potential. You were chosen to be clean and sober for a reason and I wanted you to hear it from me directly tonight and not just the people your 12 step meetings and your Mommy and Daddy. I hope you believe it. Believe in yourself.”

“I do. I pray to you everyday for guidance and believe in you. Sometimes I’m not sure that you believe in me.”

“I do. You are on the right path and I want you to stay on it.” God spoke his last words to me.

“I plan on it. One day at a time.” I replied.

His voice was gone but I knew that he was listening.

I fell back asleep at peace.

I woke up this morning and went back to my Morning Prayer ritual. Today it seemed more heart felt and sincere than ever. I look at the day as an opportunity to be the best Rich I can be. God will be with me with every move I make today. I wonder whether it was a dream or not and I don’t care. It felt real to me and it gave me a stronger faith in myself and God and you.

Thank you all for being there. I hope I’ll be there for you.


He Pushed Me Away

June 3, 2010

I wrote the following on Sunday December 13th 2009:

I was paid a visit by my former self. The one from a few years ago that was constantly creative and productive and full of life and charisma and confidence. He looked amazing in his cowboy hat and wife beater and jeans and boots. We sat down and had some coffee and smoked cigarettes and chatted for a while. The meeting started with small talk like “what have you been up to?” and “How’s your family and friends?” and things like that.

Then we got down to the nitty gritty.

“Why did you leave me?” I asked,

“I thought you left me.” he said.

“No, man. You pushed me away when you started seeing a Psychiatrist and taking medications.”

“That’s when I thought you ran away to leave me to deal with this shit on my own.”

“You further abandoned me when you started abusing the pain pills and went to less and less AA meetings and working your AA program.”

“Really?”

I thought about this for while sipping my hot coffee and taking long drags on my cigarette. Maybe he’s right. Maybe I did leave him. Maybe with everything that was going on I just gave up on him and wanted less and less to do with him.”

“You turned into the walking dead, man. All drugged up and barely making it to work or anywhere else. I’m surprised you still have friends and family.” He said.

“Hmmm. I did lose a girlfriend and almost lost my job.” I said
“See. You left me in the dust, Rich.” He said.

“What do you think I should do about it? Do you want to come back to me? Be together again?”

“Nah, man. Not yet. You’re not ready for me yet. You’ve got bills out of your ass. You’ve got too much anxiety and depression for me to handle. You have issues with women and sex. You just got a year sober a little while ago. You need some heavy duty work before I’d consider being part of your life again.”

“But I miss you terribly sometimes. I don’t feel complete without you sometimes.”

“Well, if you don’t take care of your sobriety and mental health properly then there’s no chance of me getting involved with you again.”

He had so much energy and confidence in what he was saying and it hit me hard. He’s right. I do need to work on myself harder. Work the 12 steps in my life more. Settle my debts. Get a decent Psychiatrist that’s not going to Zombie me out yet help me with my depression and anxiety and Bipolar disorder. I need an emotional, physical and spiritual over haul. I agreed with him.

“You deserve better than this. You deserve to have me back but you’re not ready yet. Yet.” He said.

He left into the rainy day like he was never here. Yet, I thought. At least there was a glimmer of hope in voice.

So, here I sit smoking and drinking coffee contemplating the conversation. I think I’ll pray on it and see what tomorrow brings. Meanwhile, I’ll be the best new Rich I can be today. Just for today.


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