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exposed nerves
kickin' the science
I've moved. Find me here at dohappy.org. Feel free to drop me a line any time.
You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time-back home to the escapes of Time and Memory. - Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again

We have all stood in our puddle of mud and declared sovereignty and superiority over the puddles of mud next to our own, like a high school rivalry. But the land is the land no matter it's elevation and composition; no matter its location. From the asphalt of New York to the mountains of Colorado, the land is still the land. The puddle of mud the limits of courage and imagination. Step out! Step out, and you can never go home again.

And those I love are scattered about the American landscape. In California, a place of promise, and too often a place of broken promise and myth. And in the panhandle of West Virginia where you run from the rat race and the rat race finds you. Along the rust belt that helped build and protect a nation, a stretch of land that was the prosperity of the Twentieth Century and now abandoned, where ruddy faces and calloused hands are reviled for an unfulfilled promise of what might someday be.

And what has changed along these years, through these sorrows and pains and heartaches and dreams across the miles? I have changed. I have come to know what all men must learn, that they will not live forever or conquer the world. I will wake each morning by the grace of God or something like it and pass through this time in space of my own free will hoping that I will one day see her and lie down next to her again. As you grow and discover, home is where you find love and warmth -- a place you build with your own hands and another.
This is NOT a political rant, however, politics are ingrained in our culture and, therefore, play a role...

Since 9/11, ours has become a Culture of Fear. Today -- December 22, 2008 -- our Terror Alert Level is at "Yellow" or "Elevated". Guess what? It's never been below "Elevated".

The genius of the aftermath of 9/11 was that the Bush Administration used the situation to instill fear into the populace of this country, which allowed them to manipulate the people as a whole. Fear misdirected us during the centralizing of political power for financial gain and cronyism. Our rights eroded. We have run up a debt that our children's children will struggle to pay off. Whether the Bush Administration knew the attack was coming or not is not relevant (for these purposes), the fact is that within hours they knew -- as did we -- who was responsible and where they were. And what was our response to an attack on American soil? To cower and pretend to be diplomatic. Instead of deploying our full military capabilities and turning Afghanistan into a parking lot as we should have (yes, there would have been civilian casualties, but far fewer than we have seen in Iraq), we put out a half-assed effort to negotiate with a government that we knew would be uncooperative. And the power grab was on.

Fast forward to today. More than seven years later. Seven years of conditioning. Seven years of being distracted by a small band of extremists and later, by a pointless war.

On November 4, 2008, our country called "bullshit" and opted for the unknown in Barack Obama rather than enduring four more years of fear. Obama will not save this country. He will not save our culture. But he got it right when he said that we have hard work and struggle in front of us. We need to reach down and find our grit and mettle. And we believed. All it takes is a glimmer of hope. All it takes is a little hope that we can unfuck ourselves. It is up to you and me.

I see people who have no reason to fear. People who are intelligent and capable. People who always rise above everything and thrive, and they are afraid of what is coming next. It has become our collective mentality. Conditioning. Be afraid. The bottom is always about to drop out. Someone or something is always out to get you.

The problem with fear is that it multiplies anytime we give into it. This how people lose their minds. This how people get so spun up they won't leave their home. And the fear is always worse than the event. Always. I know from personal experience. My last 18 months in California were largely spent in fear. It nearly killed me. I was afraid to leave my home at times. Afraid of being alone. Ashamed of what was happening to me, so much so that I pushed the one person who loved me away, over and over.

When I made contact with my oldest daughter, after having her ripped away from me almost 20 years prior, she said she wanted to see me. It was a glimmer of hope that overrode my fears. Where would I live? How would I survive? Would I ever see the one I love again? It didn't matter, I knew everything would be ok. It made me reach down, reach out, and make breaks for myself. And I came home. I speak with my daughter all of the time and the relationship is growing. I have a place to live. Food. Unemployment benefits. I have that someone special; that person who loved me at my worst. My life isn't perfect, but what is? What this is, is a starting point for what comes next and I am not afraid.

Today, I smile. I have hope. I understand the value of it. I woke up this morning, knowing that I am loved and that I matter. I have a lot on my plate, but everyday I reach down and kick at the darkness a little harder and a little longer. My own life has taught me that it only takes one break in life to make everything else fall into place. Breaks are not given, they are made through persistence, integrity, and hard work. You kick the darkness hard enough and long enough -- you will yourself through -- and eventually, daylight bleeds through. And all it takes is hope; knowing that, in the end, everything will be alright. I know that there will be struggle ahead. Disappointment and sacrifice. There will be bumps in the road. I know that there will be blessings and happiness too. I also know who I am and what I am capable of. I know that I matter. I see light at the end of the tunnel and I am going to make it there, because I have hope.

So, I say, fuck fear. I have hope, and you should too. I refuse to live in a state of fear. I don't want my children growing up to be afraid. I don't want those I love to give into fear. Hope, I tell you. Hope.

Current Music: Imagine - John Lennon

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Day 2

3:00 - Girl texts: "Good luck with the non-smoking. I love you! <3"

3:01 - I reply: "Its 3 in the damn morning! Time zones!!!!"

3:01 - Girl texts: "Remember that when you wake up and act like a pussy because you arent smoking."

3:02 - I throw my cell phone across the room.

5:15 - Wake from disturbing homo-erotic dream involving Willem Dafoe and clown.

7:00 - Wake up to an odd noise with short panicked breaths. My cell phone is skittering along the floor on "vibrate". Must be my alarm. I get up.

7:04 - I notice my left hand is numb and stiff. I wiggle my fingers, thinking I slept funny.

7:05 - Nekkid. I notice a Sharpie drawing of a penis on my left shoulder. I'm going to guess the patch made my hand numb.

7:06 - I pull off the patch. It hurts worse than removing a Band-Aid. Now I understand why the box said "hairless". I think about texting the girl for sympathy, but decide against it. Pussy, indeed.

7:10 - Shave a small spot on my rib cage for the patch.

7:30 - I hurt. I want a cigarette. I decide the girl is right. I draw a vagina on the patch with a Sharpie and affix it to my ribs. I am a pussy.

7:32 - Notice a big red spot on my left shoulder from the patch. Wonder how long it will be there.

7:34 - I look at the nicotine transdermal system patch box, hoping that the redness from these patches lasts around two weeks so I can make a cool smiley face on my back. Under side effects, it reads: "may cause vivid dreams" and I remember my dream of Willem Dafoe throat fucking a hapless clown.

7:35 - Doing the math trying to determine how many packs of cigarettes equal one hour of psychiatric therapy and how many hours of therapy will be needed to get over the Willem Dafoe/clown dream.

8:36 - I want a cigarette.

8:52 - I want a cigarette.

10:01 - Girl texts: "Good morning. Hows day 2 going?"

10:01 - I reply: "Willem Dafoe clown sex dreams!!!"

10:03 - Girl texts: "Get some help"

10:03 - Girl texts: "I'll be the clown! >:)"

10:04 - Wonder if my dick will ever work again.

11:20 - Race to the bathroom. Something evil and ungodly fires out of my ass for 15 minutes. I think I am going to pass out.

11:35 - Look at the contents of toilet bowl and am convinced I am dying. Great, I quit smoking only to die of my guts falling out of my ass.

11:38 - I am worried. I take picture of toilet bowl contents with my cell phone and MMS it to everyone in my address book under the subject: Is There Something Wrong With This?

11:40 - Friend 1 replies: "Sending pictures of your shit? Yes, there is something wrong with that."

11:41 - Friend 2 replies with a picture of his dick.

11:43 - Girl replies: "I never want to see you again!"

12:11 - I want a cigarette.

12:43 - I want a cigarette.

1:08 - Cleaning up the house. Notice roommate left a half a pack of cigarettes. Put one in my mouth.

1:09 - Look in the mirror and think "James Dean"... he looked cool with a cigarette in his mouth, and so do I. Smoking is cool.

1:10 - Looking for a lighter.

1:12 - Considering lighting the cigarette with the toaster.

1:13 - Girl texts: "What are you doing?"

1:14 - I reply: "Nothing" and throw the cigarette away.

2:02 - Stinky is doing the "I have to poop" dance. I take the commie bitch outside.

2:04 - She poops.

2:05 - Stinky is staring at a squirrel in the yard. The squirrel is not running. Stinky is NOT barking, which is weird because Stinky barks at everything, even leaves. Then I notice the squirrel has a stray cigarette butt in its tiny hands. The squirrel and dog are conspiring against me! I knew Stinky was evil!

2:07 - Bring Stinky inside and decide to interrogate her again. This time, I figure, I will have success because she is already on a choker and leash. Stinky surprises me with a pre-emptive shock and awe strike, peeing on my sock. I drop the leash and Stinky cowers to the laundry room.

2:15 - I have washed my foot, changed my socks, and cleaned up the pee from the carpet. Stinky is no where to be found.

4:26 - I want a cigarette.

5:02 - I want a cigarette.

5:15 - I walk outside and shake my fist at God and curse Him. It doesn't help.

5:17 - My gay neighbor, Kris, is staring out the window at me. I am yelling at the squirrel. This does not make me feel sane.

5:23 - Curled up in a fetal position on the couch sucking my thumb. I want a cigarette. Stinky has emerged from hiding and is licking my jeans. I WANT A CIGARETTE!!!!

6:40 - Roommate comes home and sees me still in a fetal position on the couch. He says, "Gay Kris said you were having a meltdown."

6:40 - I tell my roommate, "I WANT A FUCKING CIGARETTE!!!!"

6:40 - The roommate looks puzzled. He says, "throat fuck clown?"

6:41 - I jump up on the sofa like Tom Cruise and yell at him: "THE PATCH ONLY HELPS SO MUCH!!!! THIS SUCKS!!!"

6:41 - The roommate says, "Dude the dog and squirrel have not conspired to kill you." He punches me in the dick.

6:58 - I pick my sorry ass up off the floor and thank the roommate for the reality check.

7:30 - Spaghetti and shots of Patron for dinner. Shots of Patron for desert.

8:00 - We turn on the television. Roommate flips the channel to AMC. A Willem Dafoe double feature.

8:01 - Fetal position again. Crying.

Current Music: Hard Sun - Eddie Vedder

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Day 1

7:00 - I wake up. Today, I am going to quit smoking. I have decided on using a program because cold turkey just sucks and I have become adverse to unnecessary suffering. The program I have chosen is a nicotine transdermal system patch.

7:05 - I still haven't smoked. Go me. I take a shower.

7:20 - I am clean and dressed. The package says there are 14 patches inside the box. As I only have been smoking 5-7 cigarettes a day for the past month, I'm thinking this package will last me 2-3 days. They should package patches like cigarettes, in allotments of 20. I read the instructions.

7:22 - Apparently I am only supposed to use one patch every 24 hours. I rethink my position that Aaron Eckhart's character in Thank You For Smoking was a pussy.

7:23 - The box says: "apply one new patch every 24 hours on skin that is dry, clean, and hairless." Hairless. I'm a man. Hairless? That leaves me with the bottoms of my feet, my balls, and my forehead. None of these options sound appealing.

7:25 - Thinking the previous line is clever, I text my girl the same line. She will be impressed by my superior sense of wit, I am sure.

7:27 - Girls texts back: "UR a dick! Its 430 in the morning. Draw a penis on it and put it on your forehead!"

7:27 - Girl texts back again: "Dick!"

7:28 - I draw a penis on the patch with a black Sharpie. I decide my left shoulder is fairly hairless and place the patch there.

7:29 - Girl texts back again: "DICK!"

7:30 - The patch isn't working and I want a cigarette.

7:58 - The patch still isn't working. I text girl informing her of my failing faith in the transdermal system.

8:01 - Girl texts back: "USE ALL THE PATCHES AT ONCE!!!1" I think she's mad.

8:18 - I am suddenly nauseated and light-headed. I need to take a shit. NOW! The patch is working.

9:51 - I am tempted to smoke, but I don't.

10:06 - I am tempted to smoke, but I don't.

10:18 - I am tempted to smoke, but I don't.

10:30 - I lay down.

10:37 - Girl texts: "How is the non-smoking going?"

10:38 - I reply: "Die you evil bitch!!!"

10:39 - I reply again: "Sorry"

10:42 - Girl texts: "Does it hurt?"

10:42 - I reply: "Yes"

10:43 - Girl texts: "GOOD!!!11!"

12:03 - I want a cigarette.

12:05 - I decide to go to the store and buy some gum. There is a group of teenagers standing outside the store smoking cigarettes. None of them look old enough to smoke. For a moment, I think about pretending to be a cop and confiscating their cigarettes. I decide against it and walk through their cloudy circle inhaling as much second hand smoke as I can. This is not satisfying.

12:16 - Locate gum and buy in bulk.

1:42 - Home. I am tempted to smoke, but don't. I am on my eighth piece of gum. Girl is not replying to my texts. The dog is licking her ass and staring at me intermittently. The dog's name is Stinky and she is part Vizsla.

1:50 - I realize "Vizsla" is Hungarian for "pointer" and the Hungarians were communists. I decide to interrogate the dog, just to be on the safe side.

1:51 - Stinky circles the dining room table with me in pursuit. She does not understand the command: "Homeland Security, freeze!"

1:52 - Thinking I'll outsmart the dog, I suddenly change directions when circling the dining room table. Stinky takes this to be some sort of game and uses the opportunity to sprint across the room and onto the couch. She barks, taunting me.

1:54 - A scratch or two later, I have captured the dog. I begin interrogating her. "What is your name? Who sent you? Who are you working for?" I realize I am doing a poor Boris Badenoff impression.

2:05 - Stinky licks my open mouth during interrogation... with the same tongue she was using to lick her ass a short while ago! I let her go. She is a clever one and definitely some sort of spy. She runs around the house in circles, taunting me.

2:07 - I am sitting on the dog screaming at her, "Give it up you commie bitch! Tell me what you know!"

2:08 - Girl texts: "What are you doing?"

2:09 - I reply: "Playing with the dog."

2:09 - Girl texts: "Good. Cuddle therapy."

2:10 - Dog has escaped again and I want a cigarette.

3:45 - Decide that rubbing one out might distract me from wanting a cigarette.

4:10 - I still want a cigarette.

5:45 - Roommate comes home and offers to buy dinner at BW3's. I'm in.

6:20 - We are seated in the smoking section of the bar. I begin ordering beer every time a waitress goes by. Roommate begins to regret decision to buy dinner.

7:30 - I have drank four 20 oz beers, have a full one in front of me and another on the way. The roommate is smoking and I am inhaling deeply. I hyperventilate and fall over. Roommate asks for the check.

8:15 - Driving home. I tell roommate I think the dog is a communist spy. He tells me I'm drunk.

8:18 - I text girl: "I'm convinced Stinky is a communist spy."

8:19 - Girl texts back: "Have you been drinking?"

9:30 - I want a cigarette.

10:00 - I want a cigarette.

10:30 - I want a cigarette.

11:00 - Decide to call it a day. I text girl and say good-night. I want a cigarette.

11:02 - Girl texts: "How did your first day of non smoking go?"

11:03 - I reply: "Piece of cake."

Current Music: Let It Rain - Eric Clapton

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The novelty of being "home" has worn off. I've spent a little more than a week visiting family and friends, those I love. I have made living arrangements, and will move in later this week (probably tomorrow evening). In many ways, all has gone according to plan. Next up, work.

All this being said, coming home has really shown me how much I have changed; where I have grown (where I thought there was no growth) and reminded me why I chose to move to California in the first place. In some ways, nothing has changed. I know, all of this is vague, but I am hard pressed to find a means of explanation except to say: I understand what it is.

My oldest and dearest friend, Carol, has been a godsend and without her, I would probably encounter the same problems I had living in Michigan over the previous few years. We spent most of Saturday and Sunday talking and it was a wonderful exchange of energy that opened my heart and mind and gave me a sense of my center. I realize that now is the time and if I am going to do anything with the gifts that I have, I need to begin now. My spiritual health and growth is what will carry me. As difficult as it is to be in this situation, I know that I have created it for myself, and that my history and karma --if you will -- has come back to allow me to pursue those things which are important to me.

What I know is this: I love and I always have found ways to contribute to those around me and now, this is being returned to me.

That is all for now...

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A few hours ago I stated I didn't know what I would take away from this experience and that it would probably take awhile to figure. Maybe I figured a bit of out.

I was reading a study earlier today that claimed that more than 50% of all Americans only have their spouse or significant other to talk to regard deep, personal issues. Of course the question was raised: what if you begin having relationship problems or if that person gets sick? Sure, you may have 100+ friends on myspace or facebook, but most of the communication you have with those people is largely irrelevant.

The most obvious factor here is the rise of the Internet and people taking on virtual lives and having (as one friend once put it) iFriends. It is a poor substitute for human contact, but sometimes, that's all we have.

So if I am taking something away from this experience that has a meaningful and profound impact, it's this: I understand absolute isolation. I understand what it means to have NO ONE outside of the Internet to talk to. I understand how deeply it hurts. When I land back in Michigan, I will be re-establishing my personal ties and expanding my social circle exponentially. I don't ever want anyone to feel isolated, alone, or irrelevant as I have often been made to feel.
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For the past couple of years -- for better or worse -- I have used this forum to complain about California and what has become of my so-called life. I don't have some giant revelation now to take all of that back and say: this is what I have learned. It's going to be awhile before I draw anything productive out of the last couple of years.

I'm clock watching at this point. About 115 hours to go, maybe less, depending on the post office.

What it feels like now is hurt and agitation. I'm generally annoyed, because when push comes to shove, I'm leaving California the same way I left Michigan two years ago, with a lot of loose ends. I've done my best to tie things up here, even stayed an extra month in hopes of accomplishing some things, but a lot of these things are outside of the realm of my control. I'm frustrated with the fact that I thought until recently, about 95% of my business would be taken care of; it's simply too late in the game for me to make a contingency plan now that things have gone wrong.

I know that doing the right thing often means doing the difficult thing, and this has grown increasingly difficult by the day. It's like the Universe is saying, "how bad do you want it?" Thing is that I don't want it, but what I do want, I cannot have. Moving back to Michigan is only a last ditch effort to reclaim some piece of me.

Egad, that was depressing wasn't it?

Move along, nothing to see...

Current Mood: aggravated

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After two plus years, the experiment ends, I'm coming home this month.

I now know more about myself than I ever wanted to know. Most importantly, I know I can cut it anywhere. I'll need that skill returning to Michigan with the economy being what it is.

So yes, I am leaving California for Michigan and if you want to spot me a cup of coffee, I'll give you a litany of reasons. Ultimately, Michigan is where my people are, the people I am closest to; those I love. See you soon.
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All that I believe has been put to the test, and for quite awhile I was convinced that I was broken; that what I believed was not valid because the results of my faith had fallen short. What I have experienced was an anomaly.

I once believed that there were no "bad people" and that everyone was "good at heart". Maybe it is time reassess that idea. No matter my own hurt and/or bitterness, I still cannot find it within myself to react in the manner I would like to react to the last two years of my life. The lies. The betrayal. The agony of giving of myself only to be belittled, abused, and humiliated for the effort.

I am not now who I once was. Everything has been destroyed. I am alone and suffering. I have the opportunity to go anywhere and do anything, because there is nothing left for me to lose. My revenge will come in living well; in laughing and loving, the true measure of success in life.

All, Godspeed...
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