Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Death Fantasies

In the book, I wrote about fantasizing my own death when I was seven, after my mom died in her sleep from heart failure. In my waking dream, my heart, like hers, would stop. After Aunt Barb crashed her car and died when I was eighteen, the fantasy turned to dying by bleeding. Breaking through glass and tearing skin to blood.

I don’t know, but I’m guessing this is sorta normal, a part of the grief process, a way to feel connected to a dead love.

I have a newish death fantasy, one that I dream since Dave died. Like after my mom died and I imagined a death that mirrored hers and I felt my heart stop, after Dave died I started to lose my breath and imagined myself dying as Dave did by running out of air.

The first time I noticed it happening and identified it as a new death fantasy was a couple summers ago. I lay on a rock next to a steam, soaking in sun and humid air, feeling peaceful and grounded when my breath became shallow and I didn’t feel like I was getting enough air. All I could see was Dave taking his last breaths, all I could feel was his slipping away.

For the first time, on the rock in the sun, I saw that memory as traumatic. In the first few years after Dave died, I thought of the moment of his last breaths, and the months leading up to it, as magical. I saw golden light that luminated truth.

But on the rock, in that sun soaked moment, I saw the past as traumatic. As I basked in earthy pleasure, I was vividly aware of the pain and suffering that had so far been drowned out by cosmic light. In the light of the Earth sun, I saw a new human truth, felt a new human pain.

So now, my death fantasy is: I can’t breathe. I can’t catch my breath. My breath gets shallower and shallower, so if it was any shallower, I will die.

I guess it’s something like a panic attack. Only I’m not panicking. I’m usually completely chill. I just can’t breathe. And I think, ah, so this is how it feels. To slip away.

Breathing, like meditation, is best when you do it consciously, but if you don’t it still happens. All practices are correct; all doors lead to *heaven*. The enlightenment switch can flip anytime. Even Catholics agree: you only need to ask the Lord’s forgiveness to receive it. Whammy. Just like that.

Yesterday, in the shower, with the sunlight blasting in through the translucent window glass, I felt my breath weaken. Knowing it would pass, and celebrating the sensation because it has become sort of a momentary tribute to Dave, I observed my breath, my shallow barely functional breath. I fantasized it stopping all together and then saw my body break apart and dissolve. I thought of one of my favorite analogies of the body as a vase that when it breaks the inside-the-vase air becomes one with the outside-the-vase air.

I thought about how breath work and meditation help dissolve the illusion of the body vase, but how—no matter how conscious your breathing or deep your meditation—the vase still breaks and the airs become one. I remembered spontaneous healing and spontaneous enlightenment are real. All the prayers and good behavior may make for a certain quality life, but all qualities of life are valid and valuable.

There’s millions of possible outcomes, none right or wrong. In one, I’m wrecked . In one, I’m a wise old sage, knowing the light of faith and love. In all of these possibilities, we all die.

Friday, October 13, 2017


Now that Everything You've Ever Done is being sold in six different totally rad independent stores across three states, I'm breathing again. It happened while I was walking southeast down Sunset Boulevard in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. As we passed on the sidewalk, just before I got to Stories Books and Cafe, a handsome late-thirty-something once-punk, now sedately-hip dude locked eyes with me and smiled big. His eyes said, "We've been waiting for you." His smile said, "Welcome home." And I breathed.

I had just come from West Hollywood, where I met Kieran, a kind and impassioned bookseller at Book Soup, where I left five copies of Everything You've Ever Done. The first store I asked in LA was stocking my book. And here, this handsome stranger on the sidewalk, this angel-from-outerspace gave me a cosmic nod. And I remembered I was on the path. I was in the exact right place at the exact right time.

The not breathing began weeks before I went to LA, after I took a sharp inhale when I heard ringing after dialing Antigone Books, a 30+-year-old book selling institution a mile and a half from my apartment. And from then on, no breathing. I held my breath. The woman who answered was kind and open to hearing about my book. She read the synopsis online and said, "Yup, this is something we're interested in." Just like that. But I still held my breath.

For a loudmouth, only-child Aries, I sure can be shy. Especially when it comes to trying to sell my art, my heart, me. That's what I'm doing here: selling my book.

My intentions are good. In selling my book, I'm telling my truths, which I believe are important and meaningful. But, at this point, my desire to share my story is also a desire to sell the book. After 3 years of writing and 2 years of seeking an agent and/or publisher, it'd be nice to feel like I created something worthy of $17. If it weren't for selling as a measure of my art's worth, how would I gauge it's value? As I understand it, there's a balance and a flow and a universal slippery slide taking us where we're meant to go. I'm learning to balance the selling with the art. The sharing with the receiving. Figuring out the balance is figuring out how to make magic.

A few days after Antigone took my book, Andrew and I escaped the late summer heat in Tucson by heading to Bisbee. I brought a box of books with the intention of visiting Bisbee Books and Music. First, we ate the best lunch at Ana's Seasonal Kitchen while the artist Wonder graced us with her sugary voice and guitar. Then we met Ken at the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel, and he showed us his vintage bikes and when he ran out of bikes we talked about music. He played the Wil Ryder song about Amelia Earhart. "Happy landings to you, Amelia..."

We found Bisbee Books and Music. The owner, Carol, said she'd take two and Everything You've Ever Done went on the shelf. Still not breathing.

This book selling thing kept me holding my breath. I'm walking into these stores feeling like I have something good to share with them. Then, community is materializing around me. And that's how we're gonna save the world. We're going to build powerful cosmic communities and blast our light out. We're going to light-blast the shit out of the bad guys and send them to the sparkly vast bottomless truth-love-remember light!

But I'm still selling the book. And, for me, that makes it hard to breath.

But I'm connecting with The People! They want the thing I made for them. They smile and say encouraging things. They tell me they feel wowed when they read it.

In the effort to shine the light, the light's blasting back on me. Oh yeah! That's how it works. So, I'm learning to share and I'm learning to sell. I'm learning to be an instrument of the thing I created out of a cosmic love blast. That blast moves through me and into the book and out of the book and into the community and back from the community. It comes through the smile of a dude walking down Sunset Boulevard. And that makes it so I can breath.

Huge gratitude to my kick ass local book store community. Big love to Anitgone Books and Bisbee Books and Music!

Sunday, October 1, 2017


Hang on tight! The adventure is just beginning!

I thought finishing writing a book was an ending. I thought 3 years of soul searching and writing and rewriting and finally completing my memoir was getting it done. I was wrong. Writing it surely was getting something done, but certainly not getting something out there. After 2 years of searching and trying to get support to release this book, I found a publisher. And, again, I thought finding a publisher was an ending. I finished my work! Nope. Not even close.

Writing a book is good. Finding a publisher is great. Actually getting people to notice and want the book, that requires magic!

So, here goes...