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.

 

 


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.


New Job. New Day. New Life.

January 18, 2011

Yay. Rich Hillen Jr is starting a real job. Close enough to a real job for a guy like me. After 7 months or so of unemployment I am going to be working. Not just any job but a job that I can potentially make a lot of money. I’ll be entering the world of collections. Phone collections. Hopefully it will start tomorrow.

To be honest I really don’t want to work. I don’t want to work for someone else that is. My friend suggested the possibility of working with his company as a phone collections agent when I first lost my job the end of May 2010. I had a lot of money stashed away and started getting a little bit from unemployment. I was living with my mom and had no interest in working I wanted to finish and publish my novel among other projects.

This lasted until the end of the summer and my mom was getting a little frustrated having me around the house all of the time. I did manage to get a once week gig working for my uncle cleaning offices. It wasn’t enough.

Then a friend of mine casually mentioned he was renting a house next door to him. When I found out how much it was a month and saw how huge it was I couldn’t resist. I knew my other friend needed a place and could afford it so we moved in October 1st 2010. To be honest, I didn’t want to move. I was happy where I was at but I thought it was best for my mom. I kind of thought it was best for me. You know be independent and all. Grow up etc. I rebelled mentally against the move. I thought it was force me to get a job because my unemployment wasn’t enough. I waited and lived frugally off of my little savings I had left.

I even started a “business” with my roommate. A new unrestricted social network called  (join right now folks) http://novaboon.com

We anticipated to make money eventually but not before my savings ran out.

My friend that offered me the phone collections job brought up that they are considering remote calling so I could do the job at home. I’ve been considering getting into collections on and off for years. I have over 10 years experience in telemarketing and collections seems more honorable and potentially more money to be made. My friend told me the possible money I could be making and I was in. I wanted this job. I need money. I can finance my other projects, pay off bills and live like a human again.

My friend set the interview up for me. All I needed was my resume and a suit even though it’s a casual dress code. This was mid November 2010. I showed up early for my interview. My future employer and I hit it off. We barely had to sell each other to the other. We knew it was going to work. There was one glitch. He told me that the remote calling is an idea in the works. It may happen but I have to prove myself for at least 3 months. I guess I can deal with it. He told me he would call me the following week and I would start either the last week of December or the first week of January.

I waited a week and a half and no call. I called him. He said things are really busy and he’d call me the following week. He didn’t. I called again and left a message for him. No return call. I called a few more times the following week and no return call. My friend that got me in said that the boss told him to tell me that he will call.

So he never called me. Instead my friend forced him to set up a date and through email from my friend I was to finally start work today.

I got a phone call from the boss finally yesterday to postpone my start date to tomorrow due to the weather. Put off the excitement, fear and anxiety another day.

The other story of the week relevant to my new job is my physical, mental and anxiety issues. Anyone that knows me or reads this knows about some of my disorders like Bipolar disorder and my frequent anxiety attacks. I just wrote about my physical ailment called trigeminal Neuralgia. Read the post: https://richhillenjr.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/trigeminal-neuralgia-again/

After a 3-year remission I had my first Facial attack this past Thursday. This created anxiety. I went to the Doctor and got my medications. It presented me with a mental problem. What if it  acts up at work? The telephone is how this started years ago.

I have the extra pressure of possible anxiety and facial pain in addition to the usual fear and anxiety of a new job are all there. To top it off I’ve had trouble sleeping the past week. I’ve been either getting no sleep or staying up too late and sleeping to late.

We’ll see where my first day of work will lead me.


The Future is Today or Get a Job

July 6, 2010

Yep. It’ll be six weeks tomorrow since I was fired. Let go. Freed. It’s been up and don since. Sometimes I am so relaxed and productive writing and putting my books together and other times it’s been depressing. I collect unemployment but not much since I didn’t technically make much on my checks. I’ve been living off of my savings but it’s going fast. Living with my mother doesn’t help much either. She doesn’t nag but there is an unsaid pressure for me to be looking for a job. A job. I don’t really want a job but all of this free time for an unorganized person like me can be hell sometimes. I get filled with anxiety and depression from the unsaid pressure and from being un focused. I want to write and that’s it.

Even dating has fallen to the bottom of my list. As I’ve said many times before I am a flake with dating and even my relationship with my friends. It’s become worse since I’ve become unemployed. I don’t want to do anything except write and make videos with the occasional half assed job hunt thrown in here and there.

The few times that I make the effort to sit down and think about what I want to do with my life I come to the same decision. I want to write, I want to make a living from writing. It’s possible but I there’s a long road of rejection and waiting first. I have to keep going at it. Write everyday. Try and get published every day.

I have so many connections to get into the writing field but it’s writing articles and reviews. This isn’t my strong point yet. I usually write journal or blog style or fiction and poetry. I tried writing reviews before and it ended up being stories about my experience with the movie, live band or cd. It worked for Hunter S Thompson in many of his writings so who knows?

As far as jobs go I’ve been keeping my ear out and talking to people I know because you can get the better jobs through word of mouth. That’s how I got my last 3 or 4 jobs. I use the word kob rather than career because that’s all they were. Telemarketing, retail and food service.

I had an opportunity last week that sounded great. I ran into someone I know that works at a pretty big alcohol and drug rehabilitation center. It hit me that I could really get a lot out of doing that. I’ve considered it in the past and it hit me that I should try and get into it. I asked her how I could get into counseling. She replied with enthusiasm. She said that they are always looking for new people. The pay is average but the benefits are great and you get raises often. The only requirement is to be 2 years sober. Shit. I’m 3 months short. She said to mention her name and maybe it wouldn’t be a problem.

I was nervous and excited about calling the next day. I called and talked to the woman in charge and she said that they couldn’t bend on it. I had to have 2 years sober. She said to call back in October. I was disappointed but I figured it was God’s will so I went back to my part-time online surveys and writing.

Everyone I told about this said that I should have lied. It was only 3 months. Besides I had 16 years sober before my relapse in 2008. I didn’t bother mentioning that to the lady hiring because that could be considered a bad thing. How could I in good conscience lie about my sobriety time so I can get a job working with alcoholics teaching them honesty? It made no sense to me.

Now I have to find a “job” to hold me over hoping that they will still be hiring in October.  At least the experience gave me an idea of what I want to do besides write. Meanwhile, I’m going to give it to God and take one day at a time like I’ve been taught. It worked today.


Routine

June 10, 2010

Man. This not working thing is strange to me. I haven’t been unemployed in years. I may not seem to be the type to thrive on routine but I do. I work better under structure and logic despite my outward appearance and presentation. My entire routine has been shaken up since my break up with my job. Two weeks today and I guess I’m still in shock a little bit. I’m halfway between acceptance and denial.

The first few days I ran around taking care of business. I applied for unemployment. I finished editing my book so I can take some of this free time and try and get it published. I took care of dental and medical needs before my health benefits ran out. I paid all of my immediate bills to make sure they were taken care of.

Then I settle into a state of confusion. I don’t know what day it is half the time. I lose track of time in my creative endeavors. I go to bed late and wake up late or go to bed early and wake up in the middle of the night then sleep late again. I’m depressed one minute and on top of the world the next. I’m not always self-disciplined which is why I can come off unstructured and illogical.

I need routine. I need to stick with it. Job or no job I need to set certain hours for certain things and stick to my plan. It’s only been a few weeks. I can do this.

At least I’ve been taking care of myself spiritually, creatively, and socially. Overall I am happy. Today.


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