*This was originally on my other site – the one that I’m not sure will ever come back from the dead or not.
And The D Train Kept A’Rollin…
“…Even now the details – before, during, and after – make me want to pluck my eyes out and pound dirt in the sockets. There are stories you don’t want to tell, and there are stories that scald your brainpan right down to the tongue at the mere thought of uttering. But you can’t NOT. Even if you wait until your skull is nothing but a charred and smoking husk, the truth will still be in there, squirming. At this point, there’s nothing left to do but let it out.“
– Jerry Stahl, Permanent Midnight
That’s pretty much how I feel ninety-nine percent of the time. Like I have no fucking choice in the matter. If I don’t let it out, I’m going to burn from the inside out. A massive conflagration of secrets, lies, deceptive nastiness and horror. Stahl might have been talking about being a junkie, addicted to that nasty tar he pumped into his body for the better part of a decade – but I know what the fuck he’s actually riffing on.
The fucking TRUTH.
You know it’s going to be a difficult period of time in your life when you can’t even look yourself in the eye for a few days. The current feeling in my gut is not one that I am comfortable with at all.
It’s been a long line of totally rough(but obviously necessary) shit, running concurrent with a fucking ton of emotional upheavals, and there really is no dividing wall in sight for me to yank the wheel and smash the car into. Not that I really want to smash anything, it’s just a fleeting thought that pops up from time to time. I think everyone has these moments – little sparkling pieces of despair and frustration come hurtling out of nowhere, and the instinct to destroy yourself kicks into high gear. Ah, destruction. The be all end all. It’s always there, humming it’s incessant little tune into the receiver in my mind, a melody that can be really fucking traitorous and unforgiving.
My self-destructive nature lets me know all sorts of shit way before anyone else is able to see what’s going on with me. I can attribute that to my years of practice at hiding whatever the fuck it is that’s eating away at me from anyone and everything – usually until it’s too late, and nothing anyone says or does will be able to give me anything resembling insight, because I’ve already convinced myself of what’s about to happen. I’m an egomaniacal bastard like that, and I’m not about to make any excuses for it. I am who/what I am, and I am, for the most part, quite okay with me at this moment in time. Yes, there are the usual issues that surround me like a halo of flies – depression, fear, insecurities galore, a precocious teetering on the perch of madness/genius*, and a smattering of delusions that need to be dealt with accordingly. But – sidled right up next to those feelings are a bunch of new and different emotional responses like hope, self-belief, emotional empowerment, and the doozy of all motherfucking doozies – actual patience.
Unfortunately for me, these new sets of feelings are still so new to me that they have a tendency to confound and confuse me when they appear. It’s wild, to tell you the truth – one minute I am eyeballing the D Train rumbling into the station right in front of me, thinking “here you go, son – you can just step right off the fucking platform into oblivion and be done with all this bullshit that’s tearing you the fuck apart inside“, and the next I’m pretty much smiling and taking a deep breath – knowing deep inside of myself that there is nothing in this world that I cannot handle – and handle well. I just wish I knew how to balance these things out, so that the feeling of the earth beneath my feet wasn’t so shocking when it’s there. Being grounded has been a goal for a long fucking time, and now that it is starting to take place on the regular I find myself second-guessing it’s validity more often than not. Actually, it’s more like I second-guess what I already know, because sometimes I just don’t want to believe that I know what the fuck is going on.
This is why I used to use cocaine.
Now – I am not in any way desiring to do such a thing. That kind of self-destruction is dead and buried. But – in previous incarnations of my life, I would already be burning up my mucus membranes with the magical powers of the GNP of most of South America. As bad as I currently feel about my state of affairs, getting high on blow is not a fucking option.
Writing about it, on the other hand, is certainly on today’s menu.
I think the first time I did a line I was around fourteen or fifteen years old. I was friends with this crazy Mormon kid named David, who had an older brother that was the biggest fucking stoner on Planet Earth at the time – Jimmy Williams. This bastard would just show up wherever we were, just to fuck with his little brother and make our lives fucking miserable. He would just randomly start throwing punches at whomever was closest to him, and once he had you on the ground he’d start digging through your pockets for money, smokes, and whatever else he could cold jack from you. Jimmy once took the entire contents of my backpack out on the sidewalk outside the mall, only to start laughing hysterically at me for keeping an extra pair of socks in my bag. Then he broke my nose.
He was the kind of older brother I was fucking thankful I never had.
Jimmy ended up getting locked down during the summer between our freshman and sophomore years of high school, for some attempted robbery thing. I figured he’d probably watched Bad Boys(the one with Sean Penn – not that fucking Fresh Prince/Martin bullshit) too much, and wanted to push the envelope a little further. Either way, we decided that once he was gone, we were totally going to fucking ransack his room. And we did. And then we found the Colombian Marching Powder, hidden away in a corner of his sock drawer, right next to his really shitty collection of porn and a Polaroid of some girl sucking him off. Jimmy Williams enlightened me on many levels, y’all.
That first line felt like I was being let inside of some secret club, the kind where you had to know not only the double-secret handshake, but the kind that only the fucking coolest kids were whispering about – let alone being let in the door. That first line still lingers on in my memory, like a lover that you can’t shake off and find yourself obsessively thinking about when you rub one out. It’s deeper than muscle memory. It’s like some kind of imprint in my body’s chemistry now – stored and hidden away in the fat cells, waiting to spring up at the oddest moment and remind me of the soulless motherfucker I turned into when I was using the shit. Cocaine would be some kind of constant for me, like a niggling feeling in the corners of my mind, for more than a decade.
It was a torrid affair that thankfully had an ending, and I’ve never wanted to get back together to try and rekindle the Sean/cocaine dynamic for one fucking second.
The affair ended about two years after my mother passed away, in July of 1998. I had been using more and more, trying so fucking hard to keep my habit under the radar. I was working my ass off running a restaurant, pulling upwards of seventy hours a week, way over my head but somehow enjoying the ride more than anything I ever had. The co-owners of the joint were both fucking massive cokeheads, and they were both glad-handing me pieces to keep the place running smoothly. It was awesome – neither one of them knew the other was taking care of my habit, so I was getting a lot of blow for free on an almost daily basis. My staff knew, because they were all using, too. We’d be placing bets on who would freak the fuck on out first during Friday night dinner rushes, baiting each other and talking shit the whole time. Taking turns running to the office to do a little blast of god to keep the party atmosphere flowing. Sometimes there would be five or six people crammed into my office, sprawled out and jockeying for position, trying to snort at the lines all over my desk like it was a really fucking bizarre game of Cocaine Twister.
While all of this was going down, one of the co-owners was jacking money left and right to support his(and I guess in a roundabout way – my own as well) habit. We had purveyors cutting us off left and right, and I was spending far too much time on the phone with accountants and at the bank trying to keep them from padlocking us out of the place. I was trying to keep my nasty little secret away from my then-girlfriend and our roommate, and I was pretty successful until the day I was standing in line at the bank with almost ten grand in my pocket.
I had been sent to the bank to make some kind of good-will gesture, to deposit money into the main account in hopes of appeasing the financial institution that wanted to shut us the fuck down. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot, and decided “this is a good time to dip my car key into my stash, and do just a little bump“, thinking that would calm my nerves enough for me not to freak out holding on to that much cash. So, I did my little bump, and wandered into the bank to take care of the business at hand.
Standing in line, I started to feel a little woozy all of a sudden, like when you get up too fast and see all of those little black spots floating around in your peripheral vision – the lack-of-oxygen blues. I must have made some kind of sound, because the woman in line in front of me turned around and made this horrible face at me, like she had seen me dry-humping a statue of Jesus or something. Before I could even smirk at her, the entire room shifted up on me. Everything started to get this hazy, amber-hued look to it, like right after a torrential rain. And less than a second after that, the entire left side of my body started to pound and vibrate. I could feel my balls shriveling up and crawling inside my body, turtling up to get as far away from the scene of the impending crime as testicularly possible. I felt something pop in my head, and then the next thing I knew I was on the floor, frantic and borderline foaming-at-the-mouth. Everyone around me was taking two or three steps away from me, clutching at their purses and wallets like I was suddenly going to spring up with a Glock and shake everyone down on the spot. Me? I was trying to not shit and piss all over myself in public, and gasping for breath and looking for any kind of sign that I was not in the middle of The Big One Fred Sanford was always crying about.
That’s right about the time I felt a hand reach down and grab me by the sleeve.
It was my goofball neighbor, Brian. This kid came out of nowhere to save the fucking day. He just happened to walk into the bank seconds before everything went haywire on me, and was already on his way toward me to see if he could cut in line. He started trying to pull me up off the ground, but it was like there was colostomy bag glue holding me there on the carpet. He gave me this look like “dude, you need to get the fuck up, now“, and that is exactly what I then did – I got the fuck on up and let him brace me a bit so I could right myself. He asked me if I needed to go to the hospital, and I just nodded real slow and tried not to fall down again.
He pretty much carried me to his car, this kid. He was as strong as an ox, a huge fleshy boy, but I was dead fucking weight. He finally asked/screamed at me “what the fuck are you on, man?” and I just immediately evened right out. I became calm and lucid, and told him that I had just done a little bump of blow and this kind of thing has never happened to me before. I told him that taking me to the hospital was of utmost importance, because part of me felt like I was having a fucking heart attack and I was certain death was coming for me. So, we jumped in his car and took off, running mad red lights with me screaming bloody fucking murder at him to get there faster(in retrospect, that kid was a fucking saint). It felt like I was in a really bad Afterschool Special – “Cocaine Will Fucking Kill You, Motherfucker” came to mind, as did “Potential Can Be Wiped The Fuck Out In One Quick Snort“.
I could see the Emergency Room entrance up ahead of us, and told Brian not to fucking stop – barrel on through and get me to the curb, basically. By the time he was twenty feet from the entrance, I was already opening the door to burst out and run inside to my salvation.
I ran up to the Charge/Triage Desk as fast as I could, and yammered at the woman behind the counter:
“You have to fucking help me! I’m having a massive fucking heart attack, and I am not ready to die like this, I’m only 27!!!
It felt like ten whole minutes before she looked up from whatever the fuck she was doing. Eternity. I could feel my time slipping away as she slowly lifted her eyes into mine, with this look on her face that was a cross between “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me” and “when you die(and you motherfucking will) I will rifle through your pockets for whatever drugs you have on you, stupid whiteboy“. When she finally did speak, she had this nasty condescending smirk on her grill, and said to me “You are NOT having a heart attack young man, because you would not be able to talk to me if you were. Calm down, take a seat, and we’ll help you in a minute“.
I just stood there, paralyzed, with sweat puddling up in my shoes, my mind bouncing all of this ridiculous drug-addled lunacy off the walls in my head…
How could she dismiss me so easily? Why was she so fucking mean and cruel? Why the fuck did I do that little bump? Why did that little bump set me off when I could sit and do an eightball in a night and be able to go to sleep ten fucking minutes after doing a huge rail? This shit has to be the purest cocaine I’ve ever done for a little bump to make my heart explode in my fucking chest! I’m gonna fucking die here, in this ghetto fucking hospital in a shitty part of Phoenix, Arizona, 27 years old and an entire lifetime ahead of me! I am going to fucking kill the motherfucker who gave me this piece! This is bullshit, and my girlfriend is going to leave me, and hire her mother’s ex-husband and his fucking greasy biker friends to kill me! I am so fucked.
Nurse Meanie McMeanerson saw me standing there freaking out, and came over and took me by the arm, leading me into an exam room. She calmly sat me on the edge of a gurney, and made me take off my shirt so she could slip the blood pressure cuff on my arm. All while this was going on, my mind is rattling around in my head like a cracked-out gerbil in one of those wheels, each thought slamming into the next like comets hitting the Sun. While she’s taking my pressure, she hands me a glass of water, along with three little white pills. I didn’t even need to ask her what the fuck they were, because I know Xanax when I see it.
“You want to tell me what you took, because the doctors are going to need to know in case it interacts poorly with whatever they want to give you to calm you down. Your heart rate is 240, and you need to breathe, to relax“.
I told her everything. I told her that I had been using cocaine pretty heavily in the last few months, and that it seemed to somehow even everything out around me, The Great Equalizer – making me feel like I was not in any kind of pain. I told her that since my mother died, I had been hiding all sorts of shit from everyone in my life, from my father, my girlfriend, my boss, my friends, myself. I told her that when I couldn’t find cocaine, I would go out and do horrible and despicable things to procure it. I told her that I would go to gay bars and hustle unsuspecting motherfuckers, because everyone knows gay guys have the best cocaine. I told her that I thought about robbing dealers, because they couldn’t call the cops on me, right? I told her that I didn’t want to die, and that I knew when I was on the floor of the bank, doing The Flounder, that this was the last time I would ever use coke in my life, that my love affair with the little white powder that made everything better – was over.
And somehow, saying all of this shit out loud to some stranger – who ten minutes earlier I wanted to pummel to death – was calming me down. My heart rate was stabilizing. My eyesight seemed to come back into focus. My balls still throbbed, but they dropped back out of my body to their normal place of residence. I could feel the sweat drying all over my body, crystalline and salty. It was as if each confession I made released more of the pressure from my body, and I was freeing myself from whatever it was that had taken hold of me.
The whole time that I am emotionally throwing up all over this woman, there was a social worker standing in the shadows of the room, lurking and observing me. When I finally stopped for a second, grabbing at my temples and starting to let the tears come flowing out, she came out of the shadows. When she put her hand on my arm, I could feel that she knew – this was my fucking grief. This was what I was burying inside of me, and it decided that day to come clawing and crawling out of my psyche once and for all. The cocaine did what it was supposed to do for long enough. My mind could no longer be numbed by what I was putting into my body.
The fucking TRUTH was ready to come into the light.
I’ve never done another line of cocaine, nor have I even had a passing interest in it. For the first couple of years it was hard for me to even watch a movie with blow in it. But now, well, now I can be in a room with people who are doing it and not even have a wistful or lustful thought to join in on their fun. I don’t have any of that nostalgic longing for days gone by. Cocaine and I broke the fuck on up, and we’re both much better off for it. We had a good run, some laughs, and a bunch of fucking hilarious hijinks that would make for some interesting stories if I ever decide to commit myself to writing them. I’m pretty sure the sporadic panic attacks that I suffer are a direct result of the flood of chemicals cocaine used to cause in my brains chemistry, because I never had them before I used it.
I guess they are my souvenir T-Shirt. I Went Crazy On The Cocaine And All I Got Were These Lousy Panic Attacks.
Part of me knows, that writing is now my cocaine. My valve to release all of the shit that boils inside of me, to break loose the parts that won’t break free of their own accord, to pass them out of me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever really be a writer for real, but I am very sure that I’ll never be able to stop writing. Whenever my world starts to fall apart around me, my first instinct now is to write it out of me. To commit feeling to page/document file/server. To make sure that I cut the cadaver open and really examine what’s on the inside.
I’m glad I’m finally starting to realize that, because it sure beats staring down that D Train. Right?
*I’m not saying that I believe that I am some sort of genius in the realm of motherfuckers that create huge and sweeping changes in the path of humanity – I’m not a fucking blowhard moron(*cough* *cough*) that’s completely ruled by my own ego. I’m just saying that everyone is a genius in their own special way, and that is something that I have always believed. There are things that people in this world can do that blow my mind every time it happens, and the only word that comes to mind for me in that moment is genius. I suppose the word genius can be supplanted by unique or brilliant, but being the “150% or zero” kind of cat that I am – genius fits. A neurosurgeon is just as much of a genius as your mechanic, your pot dealer, your friendly neighborhood barista, the Asian massage parlor woman who doesn’t even ask before she stimulates your prostate, and maybe even your fucking shrink. They each do something that most people might not be able to do, and they (hopefully) do it better than anyone you know. To me – that’s pure fucking genius.