Nine Snaps and Then Three More

The first 8–all recent–photos were thrown up in random order by forces ruling technology. I thought of protesting, of diligently rearranging them according to some structure of chronology or location then decided that was just the voice of my New England schooling and it’s incessant demand for order. The last three though, I made sure to arrange so as to support my little bit of narration. Richie and I were both 23 in 1965 when I, mourning the death of my dad, dropped out of grad school and moved to New York to become a starving poet. Richie owned half a bar, a joint called The Annex on Avenue B between 10th and 11th, which was annexed to nothing beyond the whole incredible ethos of the East Village as it emerged from the Lower East Side.

When I checked “The Annex” in my blog look up, it produced four more entries:

Whatever, here’s some brief respite from concerns of pandemic, race, religious, political and gender hatreds.

Enjoy!

 

 

Outside MoMA

 

Under 103rd and Broadway

 

Amsterdam & 79th

 

Viewing the Alice Neel show at the Met Museum

 

Broadway at 125th

 

125th west of Broadway

 

125th west of Broadway

 

The Highline crossing 10th Avenue around 30th Street

 

Grafitto on the A train platform under 8th & 34th subway

*   *   *

And now the “Three More.” Think of these as a short story and, having done so, feel free to create your own plot. Should you actually do so, please continue feeling free and submit your creation as a comment. Rest assured it will be printed.

RSG, who in 1965 lived across East 11th Street, remarkably near Avenue B, from the Free Public Baths of the City of New York.

The very baths referenced in the caption above.

 

Richie V, the man who in 1965 gave the man who lived across from those

Baths his very first job in New York City and who now lives in the

self-same building occupied in 1965 by  the (I love this word!) self-same RSG.

Skinny Wilson Talks about Long Daddy

I ain’t stupid.  I know what’s goin’ on.  Always did.  Back then, around ’73, me I was maybe seventeen.  I didn’t know shit, but I know I loved Long Daddy.  That’s what we called him, Long Daddy.  I don’t know why we called him that.  ‘Prob’bly something I said when I was real little and it stuck.  You know how little kids think they hear something so they say it an’ get it all messed up, then everybody say, “Oh, ain’t that cute,” an’ they keep sayin’ it.  I know he likeded it ‘cause after a while he got other people to call him it, and pretty soon everybody say Long Daddy or maybe just LD.  See, he never had no other street name till I, his son, give him one.  Maybe ‘cause he was real quiet, a stay home and watch TV guy.  He never hung out and never had no real job at a store or nothing.  Just stay in the crib and get high and watch TV.

At night that’s when he went out.  Not to no bars or nothing.  He went out to make his money.  ‘See, Long Daddy was what they called a cat burglar.  Don’t get me wrong, not like he went out and stealed people’s cats, ha ha ha.  After dark he’d find ways to get into people cribs and take off they jewelry or, later on, their new electronical stuff.  You know, like cd players and walkmens and then all that eye-shit.  He never took no computers.  They was too heavy, he said.  If you gonna be a cat, you gotta be light and fast.

Anyhow what I wanna talk to you about was one night how me and him went out together.  It was the first time, see.  Before that he wouldn’t tell me nothing about where he went.  He sure as shit wasn’t about to let me come along.  I used to beg him to let me go with him.  I’d say, “Long Daddy, c’mon, lemme hang with you tonight.”  He’d say, “Hell no, Skinny Wilson.”  He called me that ’cause he thought it was cute or something.  See, my name ain’t Wilson and, truth be told, I wasn’t all that skinny.  Maybe lean or something, but not skinny.  It was cool.  He could call me Skinny Wilson, but I didn’t let nobody else call me it.  Skinny sound like weak or a pushover or something. 

Anyhow I’d keep beggin’ him.  He’d just say, “I’m a man.  You’re a boy.  I’m goin’ out to do my man stuff,” and walk out the door.  If he wasn’t high yet he’d yell back, “Make sure you lock that door, Boy!” 

All that got different back in ’73.  The year before that the Knicks had lost it in the NBA finals, but this year they could do it.  They had Clyde Frazier and Earl the Pearl and a couple of white guys–DeBusschere or something like that and Bill Bradley (the guy who got to be the senator over in New Jersey) and this other guy, Jerry Lucas, who could throw it in from Times fuckin’ Square.  These guys played great team ball—you know what I mean?  So that night my boys come by to watch the game and shit.  Around half time Long Daddy come out of the bedroom.  He got his Knicks shirt on—the real team kind with no sleeves—and his undershorts and his eyes all weird-ass like he been blowing massive reefer, and he tell me to go out and get him some smokes.  He smoked Newports.  Damn that shit was foul.  It was so mentholized it used to burn your throat.  I know.  I used to cop one outta his pack when he was too lit up to notice and always throwed it out after one drag.  I’say to myself, I ain’t never gonna do that again, but you know how it is.  It’s not like you forget.  You just do it again.  Later on, when me an’ him was in it together, makin’ money and all, I actually started buying them things myself.

Now I think I did it to be like him, but back then I didn’t see it like that.   I didn’t see it like nothin’.  I just smoked the shit. 

Anyway, my boys an’ me, we had some 40’s and some smoke an’ we was in the front room watching the game and carrying on, an’ LD, he comes out of the bedroom in his Knicks shirt and skivvies and he got this attitude an’ he shouts at me, “Hey Skinny Wilson, go get me a fuckin’ pack o’ Newports and make sure your dumb ass bring me back all my smokes an’ all my change!”  Then he throw a five spot at me.  It fall on the floor between us.  I bend down to pick it up, you know, I mean, all this in front of my boys.  I feel like shit.  Then Lacy, my number one dog, he start going’ “Hey, Skinny Wilson, hey, Skinny Wilson.”  Pretty soon they all like singin’ it, you know, thinkin’ they so cool.

That’s when I lost it.  Just lost it, an’ I started screamin’.  We had this lamp on the table.  It was about two foot tall and had a frosty white shade on it.  I grabbed the sucker with both hand—it musta weighed about five pounds or something—and started swinging the motherfucker like it was a baseball bat or something.  You shoulda seen them fools run!  It was like one of those movies where the guy gets drunk in the saloon–a cowboy like–and starts shooting off his six shooter and everybody run out the swinging door or jump behind the bar.  Or maybe like nowadays, I guess, when one of them mass murderers go off in a movie or a school or someplace. When it happened I was pissed as hell.  Now I remember their sorry asses and just laugh like hell.

Long Daddy?  That stoned look come off his face and his eyes open wide.  I swear he look at me like he seeing me for the first time ever.  He just stand there while all my boys running down the stairs out onto the street.  His mouth all hangin’ open.  He grab me around the middle and give me the biggest damn’ hug he ever give me.  ‘Think about it, I think it was the only time he ever hug me.  “Boy,” he says to me.  He got a grin an’ a half on his face.  “You an’ me, we goin’ places together.” 

And we did.  We did go some places together.  We even went out of state down to Atlantic City a couple of times.  LD loved to play cards when he had the cash.  Back then I wasn’t old enough to go into the casinos, so I’d stay out on the Boardwalk and hustle weed.  Sometimes things’d get slow on the Boardwalk, so I’d go over onto them streets where the hookers hang out.  Long Daddy tol’ me my mama never come outta the hospital when I was born, but I couldn’t help thinkin’ some night down in AC I was gonna spot her.  She’d look like me or maybe I’d just know.  I’d conversate with her. Then she’d get pissed that I was just talkin’ and keepin’ her off the stroll.  Then she’d finally know it was me.  Now that was stupid!  How she gonna recognize somebody she ain’t never see before?  But, you know, I’d think maybe she used to come around when I was in school and walk past the play yard at recess time to check me out.  Stupid as the day is long!  Anyhow then I’d go back, cross over the Boardwalk to the sand and take off my shoes an’ socks.  If it wasn’t too cold, I’d roll up my pants legs and take a little walk where the water came up to about my ankles.  That’d feel sweet.

Anyway me and him started doin’ cat burglaries together.  Then one night we was walkin’ home feelin’ real good with some good money from Johnny Rocks, the fencey-man, and right outta nowhere he say to me, “You gonna be all right in the joint.”

“What you talkin’ about,” I says to him.  “What joint?’

He says, “C’mon!  Don’t go lame brains on me.  You know the joint–the joint!”

O Jesus, I think.  “You mean like jail,” I say.  He sniggers. 

“Shit, Skinny Wilson.  Jail’s just a minute.  Unless you real fucked up or a punk anybody can do jail.  I’m talkin’ hard time.  You know, upstate.  I done it twice, a two-and-a-half-to-five and then a four-and-a-half-to-nine, all in Sullivan County.  They got some mean motherfuckers up in that spot.  The CO’s beat your ass down in a minute—especially the Black ones—and you ain’t got no table lamp to be swinging at ’em with.”  (He like laughed when he said that part)  “and all them wanbes from like Buffalo and Rochester–they call it ‘Rach-ster’ up there–they think they gonna get a rep takin’ out somebody like me an’ you from The Bronx. 

“But you cool.  You know how to do, and you got the heart.  Put another fifteen pounds on you before you go and get you used to movin’ around with that new weight.  Fifteen pounds gonna make all the difference.”

You see, Long Daddy was always looking out for me in his own way.  I was his only son, so when the lawyer asked me to take the rap for him, what?  I’m gonna say “no.”  He want me to say when I was up in that apartment the night we got busted, like he only came up there to try to just pull me out before I took somethin’.  Of fuckin’ course I said it.  Besides, he already had two strikes on his ass.  If I’d a said LD did it with me, they’d a burned his shit good.  Locked him up till Jesus come back.  They was gonna give me a misdemeanor at Riker’s and some community service if I ratted his ass.  No fuckin’ way I’m gonna give up my old man!

I ain’t no chump.  Bet your ass there was something in it for me.  You know, Long Daddy said how he appreciated it and how he was gonna make sure my commissary was stocked.  And he was gonna come visit me on the regular.  He said they got these busses that split the City maybe six or eight at night and you sleep on them and in the morning you’re upstate for your visit, easy as that.  Mostly it’s the women with they kids on the bus, but there some guys–the ones like us don’t have no cars.  He owed me big time, so I knew he’d come.

The simple straight shit: He never did come up to see me.  Not even once.  Never even wrote me even a fuckin’ postcard.  Commissary?  Shit!  If I wasn’t sellin’ blow up there, I’d a never got my smokes or Snickers or batteries for my little Walkman.  But you can bet your ass nobody at Clinton or Green Haven or even when they maxed me up to Comstock, nobody ever called me Skinny Wilson twice!  Even the ones be ganged up, you know.  At first we had the Black Assassins an’ the Reapers and the Javelins an’ a million more. I sent a bunch of them dudes to the infirmary. Later on when we got Latin Kings and Bloods and Aryan Brotherhood, once or twice I went in there myself, but ain’t nobody ever fucked with me again when l comed out.

Them dudes I sent into the infirmary, one of them come out feet first.  That’s why they maxed me up here to Comstock.  Long Daddy’s got all the time in the world to come visit me now ’cause, you know I ain’t goin’ nowheres.  I’m like fifty-seven now.  If I don’t get iced, I probably got 25 or so left in me, so he got plenty o’ time to get his ass up here.  One way or another I know he gonna show.  I was in this rehab program back in The Bronx one time, an’ I met this dude come from the joint in Newark.  He tol’ me in the Green Haven was where he met his old man for the first fuckin’ time.  Can you believe that?  LD could come up here by the bus or even the damn’ paddy wagon.  Whatever—when he do, I’m gonna hug him just like he hugged me that time.  A man’s only got one daddy, an’ he’s the only one I got.

The End

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Published in: on November 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm  Comments (1)  
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It’s Like This

(Here’s what I hope is the end of my delayed-onset mid-life crisis.  You think  you’re  tired of this?  I’m so tired of it I’m down to thinly fictionalizing it.  Anyhow…)

Travis stood in front of the aging refrigerator.   Inside and unseen: ice cubes wet and shiny; ice cream almost drinkable.  He knew how therapy worked.  He was a therapist–or at least had been one–down on Wall Street for almost five years.  He’d given it up because he preferred working with addicts.  He didn’t know that at the time.  He thought he just didn’t like working alone in that big room with no furniture other than the two grim chairs, the small end table with ashtray  and the empty desk near the windows, working for clients who seemed to thrive on their inabilities to make decisions outside of the workplace.  He  preferred functioning as part of a team, the situation at Rescue House, a residential therapeutic community for adults in The Bronx where he’d  now been social working for almost 15 years as one of an ever-changing assortment of directors, case managers, vocational specialists and medical folks.  Anger management, bereavement, parenting skills, relationships, even meditation–done in groups, seminars, workshops and one-on-ones.  They named it; he did it.

At work his strength was his openness.  At this moment, however, too much was simply too clear to be ready for additional possibilities.  Therapy to Travis was an ultimately simple and spiritual practice.  It’s implementation was no more than the art of compassionate listening without judgment, making sure the client knew you were doing so, then patiently letting that client discover Self as a byproduct of rambling on. And he was good at it, so no sense in hiring it out.

The therapist who treats himself  has a fool for a patient.


But Travis was not a stupid man nor was he naive.  He was blessed and knew so.   His life for quite some time had been measured by the number of times he’d–unprovoked–look up and whisper “thanks.”   He loved the wife who loved him right back.  He loved not only his work with those addicted to drugs, alcohol, street life and, more recently, institutionalization, he even loved the addicts.  Every day on the job was new and challenging. Every day ended with enough satisfaction to wipe out any frustrations including those lingering from his own 25 years of daily drinking and drugging.

His health was adequate despite some  recent and treatable difficulties.  He rode his bike in traffic and now had the gearing to tackle those Bronx hills included in his daily commute.  As back-up he was quick to quote the words of the woman, a racer back in the ‘70’s, who was president of his cycling club when he rode well enough to be a member and was his hero for no reason other than her willingness to state in public:  “ I never met a hill” (here she’d smile sweetly) “I couldn’t walk up.”  What was her name?

If she knew it was you, she wouldn’t answer the phone let  alone the door.

Travis lived in gratitude for all of it: friends, family, music, sex once in a while, the weather, travel, reruns of The Simpsons, pizza and, to be sure, health insurance.  His strategy for putting this attitude into action came straight from the rooms of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous.  He lived one day at a time.  Whenever asked how he was doing, he’d smile a smile not unsimilar to that of that cycle club president say “Couldn’t be better” and actually mean it.
If he had a philosophy, underlying this attitude and it’s manifestations as behavior, it was it re-enforced three times:

● Travis had been brought up to believe that whatever life brought him, well, that was God’s will, and who knew better than God?

● In his late 50’s he began serious study with the Buddhists.  Leaving God out of the equation entirely, they taught him that reality was perfect.  Yes, they and subsequently he  recognized the discrepancy between this belief and what their eyes beheld on a daily basis.  The need to resolve this conflict, they agreed, was what empowered their meditation.   Hence he was provided with both a source of madness and a method for combating it.

● Finally, coming from–of all places–his clients, at least once every day for the last 20 years, a much more fatalistic yet no less profound, “It is what it is.”
On the flip side of all this apparently healthy adjustment and echoed by so many in his age cohort lay the increasing inability to find loving acceptance for the changes in own his body and what they suggested re mortality.  Ironically what he was going through now was clearly minor,  nothing more than a knee problem, one which had done well with ambulatory surgery and without physical therapy.  Sad because he loved PT, especially, one suspects. for all the pain it provided him the opportunity to endure.  This not to be unexpected from a man who, though never a real athlete in any sense of the word, had been able to bicycle up long hills without ever losing his smile.

“It’s not what I do,”  he’d say by way of explanation, “but the lack of attitude I do it with.”  He’d then make a joke about ending a sentence with a preposition, an acknowledgment of his education and his rejection of the social class it bespoke.  Travis’d been one of those lower middle class kids who’d  scholarshipped his way into an ivy league school.  Like climbing hills, he was drawn to it by the challenge.  Once there he did it because it was there , and, once completed, he forgot it.

Gee Mister, you sure know a lot!

And here he was now in the middle of a warm and clear Sunday afternoon.  The missus had gone to church and then to a movie.  He, still slowed by the surgery, had strolled up Amsterdam Avenue through 10 blocks of a half-baked and repetitive street fair carrying a camera which never left his pocket.  He considered a 10 minute chair massage, looked at the $5 watches, bought a chicken kabob for $4, and returned home to eat it and wonder how to fill up the rest of the time until she returned.  Six months of unread Smithsonian Magazines, two hundred five tv channels, more than six hundred CDs on the computer and a cell phone address book filled almost to overload: still the afternoon promised no more than nothing.
He opened the freezer.  A sigh.  Two front-runner choices: pistachio ice cream and ice.  Throughout the last 25 years the consistent choice had been the ice cream–safe, comforting and with patience he could walk or ride it off.  For the 25 before that the ice, placed in a double old-fashioned glass, then floated in tequila.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
There are three endings to this story:

1. Travis took the ice cream.

2. Travis picked up a glass, filled it with ice, and walked over to                                     the tequila   in the hutch.

3. Travis closed the freezer door and killed the rest of the                                                 afternoon on the computer.

Here’s a comment from Ezra which couldn’t go into the usual comments because you can’t post a photo there:

Option Number Z – Travis closed the freezer, grabbed a large bottle of water and a comfy chair, and spent the afternoon staring out the window.

The only reason for the email as opposed to a comment was to show you something I’m sure you would appreciate. “The view from my porch” as an attached picture. The only thing it’s missing is my feet (smile).

Love,
Ezra

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Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 4:35 pm  Comments (7)  

Maybe I think too much

There’s an article in Sunday’s New York Times talking about the internet like it was a middle Eastern souk–one particularly corrupt–teeming with competing merchants boasting a vast variety of quality and honesty lining streets roamed by an undetermined number of both the helpful and the hurtful.  Another analogy would be the American wild west: farmers, ranchers and land grabbers, miners and claim-jumpers,  card sharps and preachers, some of them perhaps soul sharps, Miss Kindly and Miss Kitty–the full variety of human beings all out there and waiting with a vast variety of motives for me and you.

The article then goes on to describe apps  as those agents of safety and righteousness who stand between us and them, the bold scouts or tour guides–maybe ultimately pimps–who go out into the uncharted and unregulated world of the world and, our shopping lists in hand, carefully select that safe site which most resembles what we believe we want, leaving us securely at home to play Sudoku or read best sellers or order Chinese food from the place we know and trust until they return with the goods.

Guardians to protect us from the world we say we want while insuring we get what we want from it at no risk to ourselves.

Well, yeah.  Who the hell wants to get directions from 76th and Amsterdam to 77 Montrose Street up in Hartford and end up with a virus that takes all the consonants out of everything you’ve ever written on Wordperfect or some guy in the Ukraine knowing stuff about you you wouldn’t even tell yourself?

Trust me, I do understand this.  I just installed Google Chrome as my new browser because that same New York Times (albeit an earlier edition) told me that it was much less likely to be invaded by the bad guys than Firefox–my previous choice–or Internet Explorer–my even earlier choice which I deserted in favor of the at- that-time-safer Firefox.  Thus an afternoon devoted to selecting Google Chrome  Extensions, literally thousands of, yes, apps that I might add onto my computer to make it do more specifically what I want it to do.  With maybe two clicks I could enable myself to get maps, to enlarge the little pictures of themselves people paste on Facebook when they don’t have dogs or infant children, tell the weather or translate or copy an entire page or even know what each Google search entry was really about before clicking on it.  And, yes, I turned down virtually all of the ones I’d selected when I found out that they’d have full access to all the personal information and browsing history I’d posted anywhere on the web.

Omygod, please don’t let them find out my nickname growing up was Dick and that I’ve spent more than an accidental moment looking at naked women, the political views of  the Tea Partiers and, in looking to see if the Students for a Democratic Society still existed, came upon the website for the Society of the Divine Savior–and found it interesting.

Yeah, O.K.,  so there’s some conflict here.  There’s a whole bunch of me that, like most middle class folks, is utterly comfortable playing it safe.  There’s another part of me  though, the one left over from dropping out of Graduate School back in 1965 and then fleeing to NYC to live in what hadn’t yet  become Alphabet City, working as a short order cook in a bar around the corner from my apartment on Avenue B at 11th Street, consuming significant amounts of drugs, spending short periods of time with women who’s names I didn’t know or much care about, and walking home alone at 4:23 in the morning in snowstorms with the stuff in my pocket.

So what’s this got to do with right now?  Part of it has to do with chronology.  There are times when I think,

Hell, I’m getting toward the end of it.  I don’t have to protect anything and, frankly, I don’t have a helluva lot to protect.  Let me just hang out and deal with whatever comes.

The Buddhist thought I’ve been reading and discussing for the last 50 years and practicing for 9 informs me that that attitude isn’t so much a product of age as it is of reality.  In the words of my clients, “It is what it is.”  Whatever…

Recently, especially this past week at home recovering from knee surgery and watching  my body get older has had a significant impact on my thinking.  The truth be told, these thoughts have occurred to me more than once before since I spend my days among the hundred forty or so younger–if not young–folks who’ve given over their lives to drugs and the street.  Like the rest of us, they too play  it safe by sticking with the familiar dangers.

Please God, let this stuff be good and take me away from the horrors I’ve been carrying around since I was a kid.  Let me keep focused on nothing but getting money, copping, getting high  and maybe getting laid once in a while.  I can handle jail.   I  just don’t have it to live sober.

So where does all this leave me now?  I wish I had a neat  and lovely answer, but I don’t.  When I started to write this, I was all ready to brag about my pre-Alzheimer’s boldness, my willingness–no! eagerness–to take chances with what’s left to me.  I was truly ready to make myself sound soo cool.  Then the conflict part came up, but I was still ready to resolve it in true heroic fashion.  Now, closing in on the end of this post, I  find myself out of my image and back in the heart of my soft, mushy humanity.

My home turf nowadays is such a mixture of impulses and habits: an ultimately delightful chaos of mysterious spontaneity on the one hand and the deep-rooted  desire for order and dependability on the other.  What I now realize is that neither will win, and my job is to accept that…to accept it all.  My desire is to accept it with a smile.


Published in: on May 22, 2010 at 1:42 pm  Comments (6)  

NEW CURE DISCOVERED RIGHT HERE!!!

Medicine Buddha

Right now being in my body feels like an old bicycle, a bicycle old enough that no matter how well I treat and maintain it, it’s still falling apart.  There’s “give” in the frame.  The brake pads are worn, the chain stretched and the gear teeth rounded.  One or two may be missing.  Even the paint job is no more than a symbolic sign reading “needs paint.”  But enough of the analogy.

Two days ago I had relatively minor knee surgery, the repair of a torn meniscus.  I was scheduled at the last moment, did a brilliant (no stops, no falls, no horns honked at me, no cursing on my part) bike ride from Samaritan Village in The Bronx to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital for pre-admission testing by competent and friendly folks from all over the world.  All went as smoothly as my ride and the following day I was admitted and the surgery performed hitchlessly.

So far pretty good, huh?  Yeah, I thought so too.

Eventually the O.R. anesthetics wore off and some pain showed up.  Good Dr. Hobeika had prescribed Vicodin, a trademarked brand narcotic analgesic product containing hydrocodone and paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen.)   Never having been actively addicted to down-heads nor to anything else for the last twenty-five years, I had no hesitation using the pills for a day and a half and then stopping.  Was there a high?  Yes there was.  Not with the first or second dosage, but the third left me perfectly content to sit on the couch, knee elevated, staring into where space probably was.  Did I like it?  No.  Nor did I dislike it.  It simply “was.”  Which brought this to mind, a mailing I’d received earlier in the week from Tricycle, a Buddhist magazine:

One night when I was still new to meditation, I lay awake for hours in agony from a badly sprained ankle. Finally I decided to see what would happen if I meditated with the pain as my object. The result astounded me.

I recalled a teacher’s suggestion: “Get curious about your experience.” I had never before stayed with pain long enough to be curious about it, much less to investigate it. Whenever my knees or back hurt during meditation, I escaped into counting breaths or repeating my koan. I might notice when the pain stopped, but I noticed nothing of its nature. Was it burning, stabbing, throbbing, dull? Was it steady or intermittent? Were my muscles clenched or relaxed? What thoughts did the pain trigger?

Lying in the dark that night, I greeted the pain as a sensation I’d never met before, and explored each flutter and twinge. In time, the pain eased, and I drifted off to sleep.

– Joan Duncan Oliver, “Do I Mind?” (Summer 2007)

This in turn brought to mind a fragment of written correspondence from 1961 between Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous in the USA, and Karl Gustav Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst.  In it the two agreed that the addict’s quest was a spiritual one, a search not necessarily for God by that name, but for the serenity, safety, security and satisfaction which define spiritual existence.

Sitting on the couch, leg and brain high, I didn’t feel serene, safe, secure or satisfied.  Nor, for that matter, did I feel their opposite.  Quite frankly (a phrase I’ve always wanted to use) my pain had never been all that great that I was prepared to escape it at all costs. (Trust me on this one, escaping through addiction is escaping at all costs.) And my pleasure in everyday  life at this point?  ‘Couldn’t be greater!  As we say at Samaritan Village, I had done more–unintended–research and again discovered that drugs are not for me.

The following morning–this one–I did try meditating on the pain, but, at that point the pain was so subtle (except when I moved awkwardly) that I was unable to find it.  Still nature abhors a vacuum and almost immediately the pain pocket was filled by a set of conditions I’ve been working to ignore, a trio of pain producers which have made eating a generally difficult experience, and a ringing in the ears now exacerbated by the quinine sulfate I’ve been taking to prevent night leg spasms.  What to do?  Bobbie suggested mounting the aluminum crutches and going for a walk.  O.K!!!  Ten steps from the building and the knee hurts again.  This time it’s a sharp pain occurring with each step.

“If it’s really bothering you, we can go back,” she offers.

“Naa,” I respond.  “I’m good.”

A beat.

“Yeah,” I respond.  “This hurts.”

So now I’m here at the keys writing all this out to you.  And guess what?  Right now there’s not enough pain to keep writing about.  Safer than drugs, easier than meditation,

(small fanfare)

Distraction is the cure!

Remember that!

Remember that!!!

Published in: on May 16, 2010 at 10:19 am  Comments (2)  

Two addicts are talking…

The first one says, “Nobody could help me outta this shit except another addict.  Them college boys they got runnin’ treatment nowadays and them books–you know what I mean–they don’t know shit about what dis shit is about.”

The other one, he says, “Yer up yer ass!  Another fuckin’ addict don’t know shit.  He just another fuck-up a little more down dis same dumbass road we on.  He gonna tell you how to run your life and he don’t know shit.  He ain’t nothin’ but a relapse waitin’ to happen.”

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“Besides,” the first one says.  “The kinda food they got in them treatment places.”

“Yeah,” the other guy says.  “And now they don’t even let you smoke cigarettes in them places.  Can you believe that shit?”

“And you gotta clean the toilets–”

“And cook the food and shit.”

“And the fuckin’ people they got in there!  You know what I mean?   Like I’m gonna talk to them about my shit”

“Yeah,” the other guy says.

“Exactly!”   Silence.  They look around.

“Tomorrow,” the other one says.

“Yeah,” the first one says.

They look around again and walk off in different directions…

(O.K., so here’s the question: Where are they talking about meeting tomorrow?  Is it the same place to do drugs again or is at a treatment center?  Write your response by clicking on “Leave a comment” below, then following the prompts.)

Published in: on November 11, 2009 at 3:43 pm  Comments (4)