// Future & Present

On Jason Molina and his untimely death…

He was 39. That’s my age now. He died of alcoholism. I used to drink a bit. Had I not been shot, I’d still be drinking. I know I have an addictive personality. My biological father died an alcoholic. I could have easily gone in the same direction, but I realized what I was doing and stopped doing it. I have many friends who I worry about. A lot are my age or even younger. We are not immortal. We’ll all be dust one of these days. Hopefully not for a while. To all my friends and loved ones: think about your future… if you want one, think about your present. You are in control of both.

JHS

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// Decibel Magazine

In my last post I talked about having a dream of writing for Decibel magazine, a great publication covering most everything heavy in the music realm. I got a gig with the help of some friends. My story went live on the Deciblog yesterday at 3 p.m. I wanted to link to the story here. Please check it out:

Strength Beyond Strength

So many thanks to Decibel, and especially to Justin Norton, who helped get this thing going.

Follow Decibel on Twitter.
Like Decibel on Facebook.

I hope this article helps people out.

JHS

// In Dreams

In my dreams I am usually flying – or floating – above the earth. I use my arms as wings and fly over familiar streets, buildings, cities and oceans. I see people I know, wave and continue on. It might sound dumb, but that’s how I get around in the nighttime world since my injury. Last night was different, however. Last night I walked for the first time in four years. It was nice.

In my dreams I am usually alone. People do pop up here and there, but I don’t interact with them, let alone have conversations with them. Last night I was visited by my ex-wife, Lyra. She walked with me. We ran along a sidewalk downtown, laughing and being goofy. I remember it being sunny and bright. I remember not giving a shit what people thought of us. It was over as quickly as it started.

I woke up smiling.

Lyra and I are still very close. I told her about the dream in a text. She was touched. We sent smileys to one another. I told her if I could walk, I most likely would run to her just to show her I could.

“Don’t make me cry at work,” she wrote.

“Didn’t mean to,” I responded.

I smiled again. A wide, sideways smile.

JHS

// My Muse

Read with your best British accent (more James Bond, less Jason Stathem):

My muse,

I feel as though I might lose my life if I were to ever gaze upon your breast. Its grandeur, and the heart that beats beneath, alluring, ever feeding the beast that is my want, my desire, my true light, steady… and I, transfixed in my enamored state, pursue further. Please hear my heart’s voice, as it tells a tale of truth, of love, and of eternity.

JHS

// Successful Surgery, Green Monkey & Morphine

It is official. I am a dad. My broken-rock “son” was born into this world in the early morning hours of October 5, 2012. It was a routine procedure, choreographed to perfection by my cute-as-a-button (and getting famous) pee doctor. I expected no less from her.

When I finally woke up I felt a bit of pain. My sweet, older nurse gave me morphine. Lots of it. We bonded rather quickly, the the nurse and I (the morphine and I also bonded rather quickly – my silent, soothing friend). When it was injected I felt I was slowly flying, a little higher, a little higher, a little higher, and… cruise. I’d drift off to sleep and have – quite possibly – the most entertaining dreams I’ve had in a year or so. I’d wake up hurting, only to have my nurse, who was now wrapped around my little finger, there at my side, holding a syringe full of my silent friend. This went on for about a day, and I was released into the wild.

My mother, the best on Earth, was with me the whole time. She survived the night in the loudest chair I’ve ever heard in my life. I was high as a fucking kite and it could still wake me up with every move tiny move she made. I’m surprised she made it until the morning. She was happy to get out of the hospital… happier than me, even. She slept well the night of my release.

Some pretty special people visited me right after I “came to” and was put back into my room. I awoke to a big, green, fuzzy monkey and a kiss on my massive forehead. Not a bad way to wake up. Everyone was pleased to know that my penis was okay (the entire Chuck Norris-style extraction was done through my best little guy). The gigantic, spike-riddled rock-baby was too large in its original form to be pulled through my urethra, so it had to be broken up inside my body and removed in manageable “chunks.” Nice. Overall, the “baby” is pretty impressive. It was a little over half an inch long and about a quarter of an inch thick. I’m glad I never actually passed it. His name is Uri. Fitting.

Many people sent me messages and called my phone. I loved each and every call and/or comment. I have a lot of great people in my life and I appreciate each and every one of them. Surgery is not always fun, but sometimes it is needed and often, inevitable. What matters is having people who care about you and want you to come out on the other side. Without them, life wouldn’t be very much fun anyway.

I feel better.

JHS

// My Five Stages Of Grief

Being shot changed everything for me. Everything I knew, everything that was normal, my work, my marriage, my love life, my connections to people, everything. It’s hard to wrap your brain around something like that. In a way it is tragic. But it could also be seen or recognized as a time for a bit of a rebirth. At least that’s where I am taking it now. I thought I would write about the five stages of grief. My five stages. It seems appropriate to my situation, so here we go:

1. Denial
Denial of the whole incident started before I even hit the ground that night. Before I saw my blood running into the gutter, I already had thoughts that I was paralyzed and didn’t want to believe any of it was really happening. I wasn’t scared per se, it was more of a serene knowingness of my condition. Even then it was hard to take.

These thoughts were still with me even as we entered the hospital. I woke up the next day knowing exactly what had happened. There were a few visitors and every one of them cried. I told them not to, of course. I tried to be a big man and take it, but inside I knew that I was about to break down. Big time.

2. Anger
My bout of anger didn’t last very long. Admittedly, I was pretty angry at first. My life was going well at the time of the shooting. I had a decent job with a great company, made average money for my field of work, had a good marriage to a beautiful woman, and was finally ready to start a family in the coming months. Life was good. And it was taken away. Taken by a cowardly kid who thought killing someone might somehow be better than receiving a beat down from one of his intended victims.

I was pissed. I wanted nothing more than to hurt the guys that had hurt me. I wanted to fuck their lives like they had fucked mine. Then I realized it would do no good. And my brain felt better.

3. Bargaining
As soon as I was able to let go of the anger, I allowed myself a bit of a break. By then I was in limbo, wondering why it was me who had to be shot that night. Why I had to be the one paralyzed and useless, unable to even help myself piss or shit. What if Dave and I had waited five more minutes to show up to the party? What if we had played one more song that night? What if we had been in my truck and just pulled away when we saw the two guys headed our direction? It was all that and more. Much more. Why me? The question. It’s a horrible place to be, wondering. Sinking.

4. Depression
There was definitely a time when I felt unimportant. Not unloved, not at all. But useless. In the way. A hindrance to everyone in my immediate vicinity. It didn’t matter if it was my wife or my family. I felt numb. My wife, Lyra, and I had decided to end our 15 year marriage around this time. It was a joint decision, but hurt like hell. We loved one another and didn’t know what else to do. We did what we thought was right: to give each other a chance at sanity. Even though we had made the joint decision to do it, there was still a feeling of loneliness and a sense of abandonment. Not the case, but that’s where my head was at the time. And it only got worse.

Only a couple of people know this: I tried to kill myself (kind of). It was after I had been sick for a few weeks. I had a terrible infection that eventually turned into a horrible condition (I would later be hospitalized for having a pressure ulcer on my back, down near my ass). I felt like I was dead already, so I figured why not just end it?

My weapon of choice was a gigantic pair of scissors that I’d had for years. They’re made completely of metal and measure about a foot long. They’d do the trick. I positioned them in such a way that they were wedged against a tray on my chair and my chest. My plan was to plunge myself forward, stopping my heart. As I sat there, all I could think about was my then ex-wife and my roommate (and good friend), John. I didn’t think it would be fair for either of them to find me. I didn’t think it would be fair for anyone to find me. And finally, I thought of myself as being remembered as a coward. Never in my life had I been a coward, at least I don’t think so. So I let loose of the scissors and (I think) let them fall to the floor.

I took a cigarette from my desktop, and rolled slowly outside onto my deck. I smoked and thought I had made a good decision. I haven’t thought about killing myself since. And doubt I ever will again.

5. Acceptance
It’s been about a year since I was put into the hospital for treatment of my wound (naturally occurring, not self-inflicted). As I have healed physically, I have also healed immensely mentally. I’m actually glad that I’ve had this time to reflect on everything that I’ve ever done wrong in my life, bad decisions, my past, my future. I’ve done many things in my short time here, and achieved more than I ever thought I would so far. And it’s not over. I’m not dead. I may not be able to move as much as I used to, but I can do just as much as I used to… and more. There are many things I want to do. There’s still time for kids, or travel, or a novel. There’s still art in the world. There are still beautiful girls walking around beautiful neighborhoods smiling beautiful smiles all over the place. There’s still fun to be had, friends to be made, and knowledge to be known. Lastly, there’s still love out there… and that’s enough for me.

I’m good.

JHS

// Thank You, Little Lady

Today has been a good day. As you know, I had a few secret gifts to give away recently. Two items went to my best friends; the third to a secret crush I had (I can use the past-tense here, as the secret is no longer a secret). And I’m glad.

Letting loose parts of the secret were my own doing. I kind of nudged her into reading the blog, fully knowing she would eventually come across the entry involving her. She wrote me a message this morning, telling me she enjoyed the post and that I was “great.” This was good news to me. I’m a bit of a worrier at times, and thought I had overdone it a bit. I guess not (this time). Thank goodness.

Things seem to be much easier to deal with once they’re out in the open. I try to get to the point as early as possible these days. I realize it can be intimidating, but life is short. I intend to make the most of it.

I’ll apologize as I go along.

JHS