// Fan Letter Tear Bomb

The following is a comment I received recently. I’m still not certain of the source, but what a lucky friend I have; must be a great mom. This brought tears to my eyes and I wanted everyone else to cry as well. You’re welcome. I hope she doesn’t mind the share.

The comment:

“Jason, I am the mom of one of your friends. He and his girlfriend told me about what happened to you in 2008. It is such a tragedy, but the fact that you have found a way to keep on with your writing, art, and maintaining friendships is laudible. You have a fine, droll sense of humor… which I certainly appreciate… and sarcasm? Love that too! You are obviously someone with great strength of character and personal courage. (I know, I sound just like somebody’s mother). Time and again I have been both amazed and gratified to discover the hidden reserves of will that enable some people to persevere while others crumble. I admire your determination to be… just who you are, despite physical constraints. You remind me very much of someone very dear to me; my own personal hero. Just call me Momma.”

Thank you, Momma.

JHS

// Cool Knife, Little Lady

Keeping secrets is no longer a problem. The last one I was keeping involved a knife and a very talented, intelligent and quite beautiful young lady. No, I haven’t killed her; not even close.

She’s very much alive. And armed with a German k55k Cat folding knife. My gift to her. As soon as I saw it, I thought of her. She’s small but looks tough enough. With the knife she has a better chance of sticking a bad guy in his gullet and surviving any kind of incident. This makes me happy. She loved it. This also makes me happy. She knew something was coming, but I think I caught her off-guard with the knife. I’m glad. I dig her. Without her I wouldn’t be writing all this honest (yet completely awesome) stuff on the interwebs.

So, the secret gifts are given. Each to a special person in my life. All knives, but not necessarily planned as such. I’m glad I’m here to give gifts; and to have great people in my life. Love them all.

JHS

// My Ear Hates Me

I feel sorry for my left ear. It’s existence since age 14 has been somewhat disconcerting, to say the least. It was around this time that I developed an ear infection. I doubt it was my first, but it definitely was the worst up to that point. It required surgery.

I was cool with this, as I thought I was pretty tough at 14. I figured I would just throw on some Bolt Thrower, scarf down some chicken McNuggets, go get my ear cut off my head and completely rebuilt, then go about my normal day. Not the case. My head felt like it was going to fall off for about two weeks after the surgery. Plus, I had to wear a hockey mask contraption on the side of my freaking head the whole time. This looked dumb. After a while the hockey mask came off and I could hear pretty well. I was happy.

This actually worked fine for a few years. And if it hadn’t been for me blasting my eardrums with loud music, both recorded and in various band situations, it probably would’ve held together a lot longer. More problems, and a second surgery. This was okay for about two years. More problems, one more surgery.

The third surgery was successful. I have about 45% hearing in my left ear. I could get higher, almost 100%, with a prosthetic device. I’m just not ready for that yet. Over time though, I will definitely consider it as an option. I love sound (and music) too much to lose it altogether.

One thing is certain though; my ear produces some crazy stuff. It is absolutely terrifying to see what comes out of there sometimes. Terrifying. But I guess that’s part of the fun. This reminds me, I need to go to the ear doctor. He is pretty cool, too. More on this later.

JHS

// Stone Surgery

Remember that cute pee doctor I’ve talked about before? Remember that gigantic, shadow–casting stone in my bladder? These two will finally meet on October 5, 2012. This should be a momentous occasion.

The stone has actually been with me for more than a year. At this point it is probably pretty comfortable in its environment, living like royalty spiked into the side of my bladder. But now it is time to go. And good riddance, as it’s causing all kinds of hell. The only bad thing Is that the surgery date is so far away. A month. Fuck.

The first time I went to the doctor about this was a month ago. It took a while to get my second appointment, and the third appointment was basically just to tell me that I needed to have the surgical procedure done. This is all fine and good, but I’m in pain here. A month is a long time when something is causing one to have unwanted muscle spasms, sharp pains, headaches and loss of sleep. I just want the party to get started. And ended.

My doctor is great though. We get along very well and she knows her stuff. Did I mention she’s cute? She is. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Again, I’m tough. I think I can do this. What else can I do?

JHS

// Getting Older (And Prettier)

Today I turned 39 years of age. Wow. I remember my mom being 39. It really doesn’t seem that long ago, but it was, obviously. I remember thinking that was old back then. I never really gave a thought to actually being this old. Age is a funny thing, at least to me.

In my mind I am much younger. In there I am probably 18. A very mature 18, I might add. I keep up on trends, new music, fashion, movies, art and sexy women’s shoes (the latter being my little fetish; I want to design them). My musical spectrum is very broad, from classical music scores to the guttural screams of Black Metal. I usually don’t discriminate, but if it sucks, I won’t be into it. My taste in women is broad as well. I have found in the past couple of years that I am a big fan of brunettes. Again, I usually don’t discriminate. I have just as much love for curvy women as I do for women who are physically fit or skinny by random biological means. My sense of humor is extremely sarcastic. I prefer to be around people who at least get my jokes. I can make light of pretty much anything. This intimidates some people, but I love it.

I’ve been told that I don’t look as old as I am. And I guess it is true to an extent. I definitely don’t feel 39 years old. And if I shaved my glorious beard, I would look even younger. That won’t be happening, as I love my beard. It is kind of a trademark at this point, so I would feel very guilty if I ever got rid of it. Deal with it.

As for birthday plans, I’ll be spending time with two of my closest girl friends. It should be very low key, but highly entertaining. We plan to laugh a lot. I really love these two. That will make my day. A beautiful birthday with two beautiful people. What more could I want?

JHS

// Alone In The Dark

One of my best friends caught me with tears running down my face last night. I think it’s the first time he has ever seen me do that.

Dave, a friend and former bandmate, was with me the night I was shot. We were standing next to one another when the young gunman pulled the trigger. The bullet entered the left side of my neck, exited the right side, entered the front of Dave’s throat, bounced around, finally ending up in Dave’s right upper shoulder/neck region. Needless to say, we are very close and share a bond that not too many people are able to have. He knows me pretty well. He knew I had been crying. He also showed up a little early. Usually I keep this from friends, as I don’t want to cause worry. It is my cross to bear.

Sometimes the pain is excruciating. Right now it is made worse by a large stone floating around in my bladder. Unexpected muscle spasms cut my air supply, but only for a split second. This hurts. It’s hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it. This pain, coupled with my neurogenic nerve pain is enough to drive me insane. I don’t let it. I would never do that. I have conditioned myself to be pretty tough. I think I could handle just about anything at this point. There is no sadness regarding my paralysis, at least not that I can consciously acknowledge. I am at peace with my situation. But the pain…

Having alone time and a bit of privacy is pretty important to me. It’s in these times that I can sit and meditate on life, love, or the lack of it. It’s in these times that I can harness the pain, but every now and then pain gets the better of me and I do cry.

Alone in the dark, I cry.

JHS

// Desiderata, Max Ehrmann

This meant a lot to a person who meant a lot to me. It was her muse, I suppose. It is a great piece of writing and speaks for itself. Enjoy.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Thanks for reading.

JHS

// Unpublished Interview Q&A

The following is an excerpt from an interview I did for publication in South magazine (the offices are based locally and the magazine is nationally distributed). I was asked to list three things that might be misconceptions regarding quadriplegia. These were my answers:

Number one: I am not deaf, I am paralyzed. There’s a difference. Do not yell at me and/or look at me funny when you talk to me. Again, I am not deaf.

Number two: most people think quadriplegics cannot move any of their limbs. This is not true. There are many levels of paralyzation. Every injury is different, and every person is unique in their situation.

Number three: sex. It can happen. It does happen. We like for it to happen.

JHS

// Pain: My Nemesis

If there is one thing that I dread every single day, it is waking up. That’s when the pain comes. Lots of it. While sleeping I seem to do okay, but as soon as my eyes open it is all over.

Most mornings I am awakened by a very soft and sweet voice. It is the voice of my caregiver, Sheila. She’s been with me over a year and, at this point, loves me. And I her. She is tall, has caramel colored skin, and a personality to die for. She embraces my sweet but sarcastic ways. She walks in and says “good morning” in a very bubbly voice. She, on the other hand, is greeted by moans and grunts on my end. The pain is unbearable. I would not wish it upon my worst enemy. And it never ends. Granted, I can take pain pills. They do help, but the pain is excruciating and the pills only mask what is really going on.

As an example, it feels like someone is hacking away at the meat and bone of my shoulders with a dull cleaver; or like a serrated bread knife sawing through tissue and nerves. This is my norm. It hurts. And it sucks. I can say though, that it lets me know I am still alive. And for that I guess I am grateful.

This is something that I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while. Most people don’t realize exactly what I go through each and every day. It would be nice if I could transfer it onto people for a five-minute span, just so there would be a little more understanding there. I’m not sure many people could make it the full five minutes, much less for the rest of their lives. It definitely makes me a stronger person. So, if you see me out and I have a smile on my face, it is because I try to make the best of it. Every day. What else can I do?

Enjoy what you have. Always. It could be worse; this I know for fact. Keep well and let people know that you love them. Thanks for reading.

JHS

// The Jig Is Up, Kind Of

Loyal readers, you will be happy to know that I succeeded in keeping a secret. My two best friends, my brothers from different mothers, now have the gifts in their hands. Mighty cool gifts, I might add. Knives. Not your typical knives, though. These are unique, folding Higo knives from Japan.

The originals are still around, and can be found through a few large outlets on the Internet. These are inscribed with Japanese characters and have loads of appeal aesthetically. An American company, Best Made, struck a deal to release a limited number of the knives on this side of the world. The new version has a hand-hammered, raw steel “samurai” blade, the Best Made logo engraved on one side of the handle; the other side emblazoned simply, “courage.” This is what led me to buy them for my “brothers.” They are both courageous to me. I love them dearly. Fortunately, they loved the knives and promised to keep them forever. I bought one for myself as well (to cool not to). Beautiful.

There’s still one more secret, but it involves a female friend. She really inspired me to write, and this blog wouldn’t exist if she hadn’t. I also have a bit of a crush on her. Like gigantic. But that’s a story for another day.

JHS