Murph suggested several times that I read “Dry” by Augusten Burroughs. I finally did two days ago; or was it yesterday? I can’t keep days together when I’m not drinking. I’m not running a fever but I’m running hot, fatigue oscillates throughout the day and night, running a tight rotation with electric anxiety. Things skirt by my periphery and startle me, when I look, usually it’s nothing at all, sometimes a change in shadow light from a passing car. I don’t see spiders. Murph cautioned me this time. “Yeah man, should you read it, although…it might make you think that you haven’t gone far enough.” And he’s absolutely correct. I won’t see spiders detoxing. My shakes aren’t so bad I can’t maintain dignity. Sometimes jolts of lightning through my skull that I’ve only experienced from Zoloft withdrawal. My fever won’t keep me out of work or in bed. I haven’t been jaundiced, I haven’t been giving head in the streets for change. I haven’t wound up in a hospital from coma after being rescued from a gutter. I’ve woken up in a hospital back in my binging days. That didn’t make me want to stop. The only thing that ever made me stop was the realization that my wife was leaving me.
I was dead straight sober for two whole months as I fought like hell for her acceptance. I’d confessed that I had a problem and that I was powerless and all that technical talk. I wasn’t even a drunk up till that point; pot had kept me going for years. But I knew I had a problem, and I readily admitted it, but this woman held grudges. I had, after all, pilfered her Xanax whenever she had some. When I got shitty Hydrocodone for a toothache, I’d make a cold-water extraction out of the whole bottle, mix with Kool Aid, and get sweetly zonked for a few hours.
I could never drink again and still be a rather functional addict. I’d cop some kind of routine. Cannabis doesn’t do much for me anymore without adding booze, and though I love good coke, I don’t see myself in the required income bracket for that. It would most likely be prescription narcotics. Some painkillers I find delicious, like Percoset, Darvacets, the light stuff. Oxycodone is the bee’s knees, but I’ll never touch Oxycontin again. Oxycontin is designed by molecular structure for all-day pain relief. I guess you could cook it and boot it, right? No thanks, not into a death trip. Just something to rely on, like a needy lover, to devour me everyday into their placid cove. Something to quell the insistent dis-ease of my ego, my overbearing unintentionally nihilistic siren of self-judgement and long-hidden deep-seated resentment of this era and society.
You know, just enough to go to a shitty job everyday, or worse, go to my shitty career everyday, or in a nightmare scenario, just enough to keep me trudging down halls of academia towards some magical utopian accomplishment. It’s not like a habit would cure my depression; it would just ensure that I don’t give a shit about it. Every so often I’d take a break and drink and smoke pot for a month. And get an 8 ball! YEAH!
Nick Cave sang "Everything for which my heart yearns/ brings joy in diminishing returns". I modify and reiterate that everything good AND evil under the sun brings to me a phantasmagoria carnival experience in which even the dour prospects of death and loss of friendship are acquitted by some feeling of at-one-ness, universal balance, cosmic love of fates both foolish and wise. For a few days or weeks that is, and then the feeling is reduced and recedes, like a beautiful figure of a lover walking away, looking over their shoulder into your eyes and saying: “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore.” And because of that lover, so many other things just don’t carry on as strong.
It starts with a desire for freedom from external edicts, from fascist unilateralism on the part of society and government. I wouldn’t mind being a deli clerk the rest of my life. A deli clerk has quite a bit of responsibility: preventing food poisoning and using skillful interpersonal relations, making sales and keeping the leviathan of commerce semi-buoyant. But that won’t buy me a house, it won’t even pay all my bills, and it certainly wouldn’t afford me the cost of a vacation to Fiji, let alone the cost of dental surgery.
It transcends with a foaming-at-the-mouth yearning for intrapersonal freedom, and meditation is, let’s face it: totally boring to most people and besides; any guru will tell you, unguided meditation is dangerous, which I feel I can concur with from my experience. Since I’m either too busy living the life of the fractured Western Dream or not recrudescent enough to try infiltrating and insulating myself into an ashram or monastery for some bodhisattva vow or even an altruistic demand for a egoless bath in Clear White Light, drugs admit the simplest facilitation of mental variance and vacation. Work all day in the vacuous torture wheel of samsara making candy for it’s inhabitants, come home, eat the candy that passed the embargo, the laced ambrosia, the somnolent seed , and without pitch or compunction grant absolution upon those who through compliance alone make this Black Iron Prison possible and virile daily. And then sleep with the most decadent dreams of freedom.
And that’s when drug laws get clustered and maddening, leading to black-market addicts, who then can’t afford rehab, who then lie, cheat, steal and murder and also birth, cajole and feed the market which supports other addicts. Sometimes I feel like addicts, even the most puerile and emotionally stunted, are more mature than the culture that breeds them. The culture of abuse and molestation, of alienation and hypocrisy, of the schizoconjoinment of Roussea and Stalin that we have here in the West, and also basically anywhere there is government in the world.
Mary May texts me just now. She’s been upset; I told her I’d come see her last month deep in hinterlands of Middle America. Things get fucked up, MayMay. The best laid plans…she says “just quit being an an addict. Just quit. Do you even want to quit, I mean really?” I don’t know if she really understands the clinical terms. I try to deny defining addiction in the realm of “disease”. I can see the usefulness, but really, it seems quite an unassailable postulate that I consciously make every choice of what goes into my body. I can’t see it as disease, even in terms of mental health, I prefer to see it as an easily cured weakness of mind. Just as Mary has the power to choose to try changing the conditions in her life which cause her so much agonizing depression, as well do I. I too can use that power to create control, but:
If it’s not one thing, it will be another. It will be a girl. It will be pasta, BBQ, exotic sandwiches, and rare organs. It will be SUGAR. It will be gambling. It will be driving way, way too fast, which is why I’m not legally able to drive right now. It will be jogging, which will destroy my knees. It will be obsessive Narcissism, fawning over my abs and doting on my shoulders with the aims of becoming a fought over Alpha Male. It will be a career that will not fulfill me, which will bring deadly stress. It will be pornography or strippers or prostitutes. It will be a self-serving pursuit of material attainment. It will be an ego quest—a bitter self-righteous enterprise to belittle every person around me and whomp them over the head into submission with my material successes.
Or it will be rebellion, it will become a debasement trip; trouncing over the neighbor’s picket fence to piss on their daisies and kick over their water fountain, vomit on the hood of their Dodge Charger and try to seduce their teenage daughter. It will be a head rush, a thinning of blood and lightening of the head as oxygen floods veins as I break into any locked building and make with the loot. It will become a violence trip, the adrenaline junkies riff as he pummels senseless and pulpy another person’s face, searching out punch fodder like a whore on Vice Street in the City of Refuge looking to roust a priest. And to be sure and dazzling, I have done some of these things.
I think now of a girl, of many girls. Sure and dazzling, proficient in ways that demand mental clarity, a depth of emotion, and most of all, time. Many women, who got stuck on someone who gave them that for a flash in time, before they too succumbed to some kind of manic preoccupation with an autonomous gratification. A women who’s husband is always on the road, always on the nod, always on the computer, always playing video games.
A beautiful vibrant humdinger of a skirt with all her heart to give, who comes home to a World of Warcraft addicted manic-depressive geek asshole.
And of course, there’s always Murder. There’s always Law Enforcement. The Army. Neighborhood Watch. Border Patrol. Corrections. There’s always some way to legally put yourself in a position where it is not out of the ordinary to at some point aim and fire a gun on someone, and have the weight of a national bureaucracy and ethical ideal pushing with you against Justice. Or, you can always just go out and kill someone. What a rush. If you’re an addict like me, if you did it once, you’ll probably do it again, and again, always with the diminishing returns.
I search around my basement room for that long lost bottle of whisky, but in a semi-blackout, Nash must have been truthful, I really did drink it. I pull an empty out from beneath the bead. A thimbleful drops into the pouch between my tongue and lower jaw. I hold it there. Earlier I saw the another empty pint out in the camper; I go retrieve it, same act. I consider raiding the liquor cabinet. I consider that somewhere around here, there’s a fifth of Old Crow, and so little would set me right for the night…or maybe some Sterno. You get the idea.
I make a pork BBQ sandwich instead. From my visits to the plasma center, I know I’ve been gaining weight. Kidneys never feel good, all tingly, tight and sore. Sometimes, shooting chest pains, loss of breath, the terrific rumble and visual presence of elevated blood pressure. My blood pressure used to be a nice 115/55, and I could control it in high tension situations. Now it’s usually 140/85 when I’m at the plasma center. If I were in rehab, they’d see that and give me Lorazepam or better, Librium. I know I’m letting out a lot of slack on my line and it’s getting tightened to the point of breaking so fast that this must be A Big One.
Two thoughts cross my mind, the first is common: if I sold drugs, I could do more varied drugs, and be able to even out, instead of turning to the worst and solely legal of them all, alcohol. The other thought, is that tomorrow I’m going to eat LSD, go to a park, and hope to have one of those excruciating introspective ego-distintegrating hell-rides that brands you like a trauma, theoretically forges new neural pathways, and stirs up the silty layer of your consciousness so that when it all settles anew, the seemingly foreign dwelling beseeches one to act outside of habit.
A third thought: If I could just go 2 months, I could start up again. Goddamnit I just want to drink a fifth of Buffalo Trace everyday.