8.30.2016

13% [chapter 19]

THE FREQUENCY OF SHIT


Before and after selling all of your precious records and disappearing down that long off-grid road, these are some of the bleak thoughts that plagued you on heavy rotation since being removed from that tiny happy Amoeba spot. Like a scratchy record skipping on the old tube amp player in glorious MONO:::


ON TRUSTING NO ONE:


It is true that you might not ever trust men but women can more cunningly deceive. Sometimes it would stun you, the degree to which certain long term malicious and well spun lies could be so meticulously planned out by such a friendly cheery knife weilding harpy. Must be some misguided notion of achieving global domination. Or receiving that Big Gold Medal Made Of Shit hanging from the sky. Only if she surrounds herself with All The Right Guys, believing this is the only way for a woman to get what she wants outta life. Play dumb, show cleavages, manipulate all dicks and bitches. Who knows, maybe she's right? But what fucking year is this? Who wants to put all that effort into being that controlling, that possessive, that uptight? And For What?! A big empty house to watch tv in? ...meh. Not tonight.


ON PORN:


During many unemployed amphetamine crazed porned out times, you saw the sense in this depersonalized state of lust for lust's sake. Some part of you not only understood the narrow tunnel vision of sex, but preferred it to the emotionally draining love-making parade. Too much drama. Just wanna get off. Enter sex toys and fantasies that never ask you to scratch their back or make them soup. It's soup. Add heat. Tah dah!! All done. Now go do it yerself, dick face. Not very nurturing for a woman -- whut the hell is wrong with you?!
Later, all porned out on your own, loneliness and shame would sometimes come into the room. But that's why an orgasm is called The Little Death. You might feel more grounded afterward. Or more in the ground. But the cycle repeats its process of releasing more annoying hormones, and inevitably you'd seek relief from death's outrage again. It is such a sad sorry state, being a slave to the impulses that are the most depraved. But you can't look away from guilt's keyhole. Like any other uncontrollable addiction. On repeat. In decay. So you began to experiment with transferring that erotic energy into other things, like performance art or music or paintings. And strangely, despite the work's non-erotic subject matter, onlookers would always say, "This turns me on for some weird reason." Perhaps sexual impressions can travel telepathically. It led you start thinking about what other thoughts or feelings could leak out and spill all over the things we touch or contact or make. The list is endless and amazing and most often leads a person to developing a more disciplined and dispassionate way of seeing those horny thoughts that started this whirlpool spinning around in your brain. Until the water is calm and still, that storm will never come to an end.


ON SEX:


It's just sex. Why must such a primal activity proclaim itself emperor and chief over every other aspect of life with its robotic mediocrity? Greedy control and total devastation seem to conquer anyone weilding power for more than one day. And here is that brick wall you'd always end up screaming at: Isn't there more to life than this worn out game of whack-a-mole? Lying there so easy, so trite and made to feel so cheap? Best Not To Think when it comes to sex. Just frig and forget about it. Then go on with the rest of your day. Uninvested. Unengaged. Half asleep.


ON EXPLORING DEVIANCE:


And in this way, supposedly straight men were so often unjust with their sexual affections. All those times you invited other women in for 3 ways with your boyfriends, and they always promised to do the same in return for you. But they never came through. Never. Too jealous. Too scared of being gay. Too just talking shit to get you to do what they wanted you to do for them, to fulfill their own fantasies. Like all the times they asked you what turns you on sexually, but never once performed that single unselfish act for your sake. Meanwhile, your arm is getting sore and your hip bones are turning black and blue from pegging this experimental dude's forest animals all night long. Again. Because this sexually deviant journey is all about His Path of exploration. Nothing to do with you. All those densely packed overgrown tracks winding around the night with no return policy quickly became about as exciting as watching politicians lie. Pointless. Repetitive. Insulting to your intelligence. The recklessness of a broken but staid system that is so distortedly skewed toward the animus view. You came to no longer care whatever others wanted you to do.


SEE DICK RUN:


Your whole life, gay boys seemed drawn to you in some sort of flailing platonic way. Especially those who were still stuck in the closet with their secrets, playing along with the straight world's betrayals. Through you, they'd open up, feeling safe to dance erotically with their skeletons, and you were never in any position to judge them. Cleary, you had no fear of the truth or of deviance or of perverse tastes since you were already a walking cemetary of the you'll-never-know-if-you-don't-like-it-unless-you-try-it excuse. All the while, depressed, dying to die. Scared but not giving a fuck either way and at the same time. Better it would be that people Be Who They Are instead of living a lie, taking out all of their narrow minded accusations on those around them. Others that they are simply projecting their own issues onto. As in, the more homophobic a guy is, the further back in the closet his gayness hides behind his self-hate.


RUN DICK RUN!!:


You often wished there would be a study done on the statistics of how many boys are abused sexually as children, but they are so much less likely to talk about it, so the staggering reality of this common trauma may never be fully disclosed. You read somewhere that in a safe sexually open environment, people are often driven to explore their own past sexual traumas in an attempt to mentally fully grasp and emotionally understand WHY that trauma happened to them in the first place. This is why S&M dungeons are performing a huge social service in harm reduction. When people understand the origins of their fantasies, they no longer feel lorded over by them. They are no longer crouching under their desires like a child hiding under the bed all ashamed. In the words of Buckshot Jack, Jim Miller's long lost granddad, "No one on their deathbed ever felt sorry that they stood up for themselves." Or wished that they'd spent more time being exploited by a corporation. Or wondered if they should have been more disingenuine.


ON UNCULTURED BARELY LEAGAL RAPE:


It's such an insult when an older man behaves as if he is still The Shit. As if a girl would not prefer experiencing her proactive sexuality with someone closer to her own awkward age. Though, realistically, men probably don't really care what young girls want. They are only seen in degrees of tightness, as fuck holes that are severed from the human beings they belong to. Objects onto which to ejaculate. But men will even see other men in the same way when they become the objects of their own piercing disdain. While watching porn, you found yourself complaining when the camera would pan up from the mechanics to reveal the ugly balding guy's sweaty face. All the attractive men end up in gay porn cuz it pays more. pft... Screwed again. Proof that the body severing spectacle is an equal opportunity deciever of seeing humans as full beings when overtly engaged in their sexuality -- Men see women as holes. Women see men as tools. (Unless they're all in love with each other or whatever, but the word love has no place in a paragraph concerned with rape.) Perhaps this mental severing is due to the debilitating effects of testosterone that causes a kind of frontal lobe blindness. This lack of impulse control also explains why 95% of all serial killers, murderers and rapists are male. Neural imbalances and a culturally celebrated psychopathy may explain why other people are not considered to be whole human beings. But that's too sad an answer for someone whose entire lifetime of hopes, dreams and aspirations comes to naught, and is only seen as a temporary random cumrag. When done, throw away, extinguish. Then the rapist calmly smokes a butt and figures out what to do with her dead body now that she has served some sick flicker of his dick's mindless 3 minute long purpose. This is why so many women's dead bodies are discovered in trash cans, dumpsters, junk yards, as human debri that was not considered human, really. America seems to admire this kind of deluded detatchment and it's resulting acts of violence, if the high price of a murderer's belongings sold on ebay or the number of murder mystery shows are any indication. Maybe these episodes are continually broadcast in order to feed misogyny's fire?


ME JANE. NO TARZAN:


Years went by of trying to keep your head above the tidal wave of post traumatic fury. In those gripping states of heated misanthropy, you could see yourself losing it on a cascade of fucktards that, one time too many, made a sexual remark to you in public or touched you in a way they had no right to. You'd send them weeping to their big momma in the sky righteously, but also indiscriminantly. Most likely the death toll would include someone who didn't deserve to get caught in the crossfire. And that's not a feeling that any amount of revenge could aspire to soothe. So, it's a good thing those violent impulses were controlled by taking up kickboxing instead. A small choice that made your world a slightly better place, I dare say.


FEMALE EJACULATION AND OTHER PARLOUR TRICKS:


Growing up, your adolescent ugliness kept all the boys your own age at bay. The only time they touched you was when the spinning bottle landed at your feet and they'd scrunch up, yelling "Eeeew grooosss!" shoving away your chubby acne covered face. Unless, of course, the boy later turned out to be gay. Then he'd be decent, peck your cheek, talk to you about all sorts of issues after school, trade mix tapes and at most, hug you, half-woodied, looking down at his feet in shame. They were wonderful genuine friends, these young sprouting gay men. But the adult straight ones, they hated you. Although nothing would stop them from fucking you if they decided they wanted to. Whereupon they'd lose all their confidence, become instantly pussy whipped and then reinstate their hatred because there was no controlling you after they'd gone all post coital and took an assumed possession of your entire life. And now they felt lesser than. Because they woke your libido up but could not make you climax 99% of the time. Blaming you for their internal pain of feeling powerless, for whatever reason, the word Whore would escape from their inadequate straight mouths right about the time their carresses turned into strangleholds. The sad fact was, all they had to do was take a step back, tickle you with a feather and give you the breathing room to admire their equal arousal or understand the vast imaginative beauty behind a blindfold and you would have flooded the room with unicorn juice. But that voiced sentiment went unheard time and time again, until you no longer had any words left. If men couldn't even hear what you were saying about sex, then how could you expect them to ever listen to anything you--? Hmm...? Oh yeah, no sorry... Yeah. No, totally. I was listening.


"I WILL NOT ALLOW THIS!":


You'd be surprised at all the things men like to remind women they are incapable of doing. Not to mention all the things women like to pretend they can't do because they don't want to offend men. "Smart girls know that the smartest thing they can do is act dumb," so the saying goes. But what about all the things women unconsciously believe they're not allowed to do? Ask yourself: you don't actually need a dick to use a power tool or hold a pool cue or drive a truck, now do you? It's quite surprising and sad that most people can't seem to understand how it is possible for a grown woman to live an ascetic life, alone in a box truck, without having a man around to "make love" to, without someone there to "take care" of you. You always tell them, "Life Has Fucked Me Enough, Thank You." And then you close the door to your Haustruk and go back to being an anomaly.


THE LONE WOLF:


Understanding other people has been your most difficult challenge in life. The only dead end you keep coming to on that issue is that Sometimes, It's OK To Not Understand. But some consolation came from discovering a recent study that said 70% of an average person's happiness depends on having a support system of family and friends around them. A Whole 70%! Now you knew you weren't insane and desperate and needy. You weren't just a downer like your mom always said. You were a drug addict because you felt a 69% deficiency in having a normal support system. It was so simple. Tragically so. Similarly, on a molecular level, cells will commonly self-destruct unless the other cells surrounding them tell them not to. Including them in the group's progression, encouraging them to live out their full life span, a cell can survive suicidal feelings and get by given a little help from their cell-friends.


THE POTATO THEORY:


So, rather than constantly trying to figure out a situation that's ensconced in endless bias and speculation, you turned your attention instead to thinking about things you'd normally ignore. Like this pile of home fries you're about to hungrily inhale. Before devouring them, think about the long trip they took, from being immersed in the earth, growing into a potato, being dug up, tossed into a bucket and passed through a hundred pairs of hands, boxes and crates, trucks and vans before being dropped off, washed over, chopped up, fried on an oily skillet, and finally plopped onto this plate in front of you. In this way, gratitude began to enter your thoughts on a more regular day to day basis.


ON SEEING WITH THE 3RD EYE:


There came a point when you understood that every frustrating little thing that was shoving itself up yer ass was really trying to teach you something, to show you some other perspective that you otherwise would've been blind to if you got too caught up in the anger that the burr in your butt would predictably produce. So before going all haywire on the world at large, this sort of mental eviction notice to travel light, opened a brief breathing space between being happy in your own insular void and then being pissed off the second you had to go outside and deal with other people, with their shifty eyes and condescending words. All you had to do was try to stay in that small space for as long as possible. Step away gently from the aggressive, always either Right or Wrong thoughts that did nothing but cause havoc in that struggle of You against They.


ON BINAURAL MEDITATION:


This minefield that is the human race made you self-impose exile so often. It has exhausted you beyond belief, having to deal with this harrowing can of worms that is people and their hidden agendas, their snake-haired needs, their sexually charged greed. Sweet solitude might have kept you cloistered, but you were never immune to others and their clawing trickery. Your radar for disaster seemed defective. But the fuzzy reception from your broken antenna wasn't to blame. It was your own unconscious frequency, endlessly streaming disortion, sending out the signal
"i am worthless so abuse me."



*u can call me ph!*

13% [chapter 18]

A PISSING CONTEST


At Amoeba Records on Haight Street, a solid 28 hours a week were spent making garnished minimum wage paychecks and thinking about your anti-social issues while sorting through dollar records and putting them into boxes labelled with their various genres. Over the years, being left alone to listen to music and sort records in that small hallway behind the stage and in front of the bathroom, you came to almost love that job.


In this spot, you met the likes of Thurston Moore, Jonsi, Mos Def, Paul Rubens, John Waters, James Spader, Tura Satana of Faster Pussycat Kill Kill and Joan Jeanrenaud of Kronos Quartet after their in-store performances or during their low key shopping sprees. Then, along with many of the better paid and insured long term employees who'd been there since the mid 90's, (like Ox, of the notorious band United Blood), you got laid off in the spring of 2010.


It had deeply impressed you that most of those famous people were not complete assholes. Especially Jonsi. In his presence, you instantly felt comfortable, like you'd already spent hours hanging out, giggling and watching cartoons. Other famous people, however, seemed like total idiots. Ariel Pink took like 9 hours to set up their gear, spent long hours in the bathroom while their weeks old body odor fumagated the corridor, then left half their gear behind on the stage for days before schlepping back in to pick up after themselves. Vampire Weekend, wunderkinds of the Music Industry were so adept they forgot to bring guitar picks to play their million dollar instruments. Yeah, duh. Clearly some dues had been waived in their favor and would never have to be paid, as it is for lots of marketable bands.


Flip through any major music magazine and you will see 5 White Guys, 4 White Guys, 3 White Guys, 3 White Guys and 1 Black Dude, then 1 White Woman half naked. Lack of diversity and absence of critical thinking doesn't even begin to decribe The Mainstream Ineptitude that blinded all the kids who flocked into the store to purchase every album Vice Magazine told them to.


Not everyone on earth seeks to hide. 33% of the population are capable of not doing as they are told, according to the Milgram experiment; a shocking study on the nature of obedience that was inspired by a social-psychologist's desire to know why concentration camps happened, and how likely human behavior is to lead us into atrocities via groupthink, for the sake of belonging, no matter how much harm is done to others in the process of aligning with popularity.


With a Steppenwolf scowl, these hangups, or lack thereof, and too many preconceived notions fed your alienation and hightened sensitivity. A lot of it had to do with being an overlooked artist, yes. And then there's that seizure of a brain you possessed. Plus the incessant toxic coffee breath. And your sick pleasure that this one stupid thing, a thing so easy to fix, was so successful at keeping other people at bay, satisfactorally. But after you left, you realized that you had, inadvertently, come close to almost loving some of those coworkers that you'd never see again.


Like a compound fracture, too much built up unmanaged rage lived inside you to lay down and take any harrassment or intimidation that showed up at every job you ever had. While working at Amoeba, you were no longer on drugs every day. So you had no buffer zone to quell that overbearing bone that you'd be caught chewing on, down to the pourous bloody marrow. Whistleblowers usually get left out in the cold, alone. But it was better than saying nothing and passively allowing shitty behavior to go on unencumbered, affecting many other women who agreed that they felt the oppression but weren't willing to complain.


Unlike these other women though, you had no capacity to deal with dating your coworkers. In this way, your meager salary was more necessary to you than the ensuing drama that would stink up the room once the relationship inevitably ended. And you couldn't afford the heartache or the stress of keeping both jobs -- Employee AND Girlfriend.


Don't shit where you eat, as the saying goes. Wise words. Until you start hating your job and find yourself crying in the bathroom on your lunch breaks because of the way your boss treats you or the way certain coworkers talk about you. Then, all you wanna do is get fucked up and rub yer face in shit all damn day. Cuz getting that little fix of a dopamine boost from seeing that guy you're crushing on is the only motivation left in getting your depressed ass outta bed and in to work every day.


However, drunk at the bar or at a party after work, some of your peers tried to stick their tongues down your throat, and you ran off in a disturbed haste. Butthurt victims of blue balls make for dangerous hostile work environments so watch out! But you refused to live in fear, so it seemed easier to confront them rather than hide everytime you had to pass them in the hall. Just like high school. A middle finger and a friendly smile can work wonders sometimes. Alas! It's always the people that you're not attracted to that want to ride yer pony. The ones that you would've enjoyed spending time with, watching movies or playing music or spooning fully clothed, they had absolutely no interest in being saddled with your janky mule. Again, just like high school. It was all lies. High school was NOT the Best Time Of Your Life. How very convenient that high school dynamics would unfortunately continue throughout adulthood in every group setting ad infinitum. Sorry, kid.


To dethrone Romance -- there's that reality that once you do spend time with those whose company you craved, you are setting yourself up for failure. Down drops the veil of disappointment and they are not what they seemed. You're irritating to them in some sandpapery way, too. Or simply not resonating in the correct way. Fair enough. But that makes the whole process of getting what you want not only impossible but moot. The only thing that can keep up the illusion for the clinging to others, as if you'll fall off the face of the earth when you finally let go, is your willingness to forgive them their faults and wish that they could do the same for you. Trying not to end up as one of those half-people, connected to the hip of the other half-person, seeking to live out a greater fantasy other-life buried in the digital backyard, right under a faithful nose, 10 or 20 or so years down the yellow brick relationship road.


Feel that hopelessness? Embrace it. It's all you can do. This is as good as it gets, dude...!


So you did. It felt real and true. And the more you embraced the hopelessness, let it in, saw it for what it was, really looked it in the eye, the less fearful and ugly and alarming detatchment from that sphere of mortal love became. At some point on the way down the asexual slide, the realness of that soft hopeless embrace became preferrable to wasting more of your precious time chasing beguiling shadows. Perfect imperfections. White pee. Fantacide. Fake glory. Future lovers who would also one day stop listening. Or finally admit to you that they're gay.


All that confusion caused by love and hate transformed itself through a nearly constant production of music and art. So it was good that you never got too close to crushing your male muse. The intense creative energy that was produced from being in his presence was the best kind of love that could've ever happened to you: non-mortally. So it all worked out just great. So you say. Now if only you could give up, stop flogging the dead horse and let him slide away, the way that he naturally would if you could stop picking at it. Like a scab. Just to see if it still hurts as much as it used to. Just to prove to yourself that healing has occurred. But whenever you peek back into those rejected memories, you find a new distracting weed of hope growing. Hope, that some day you might be Good Enough to share your life with another person who neither worships the ground you walk on nor beats you down into a diminutized pulp, but stands there next to you on equal footing. Not bloody likely.


Like a disease, everytime that hope flares up, it slowly kills every sense of stillness and peace inside you that made you feel worthy, that made you, at long last, feel free. Free from wanting or needing anything from anybody. And in that way, you could be complete and giving, unconditionally. No strings of wishful thinking, no grasping, no emotional defecits dangling. Maybe it's unrealistic to think anyone can ever be free from those haunting self-doubts, from useless subjectivity, from cowardice and inadequacy.


Your truest strength is your weakness, your willingness to face the pain of annihilation because that is where the indestructible and the infinite always live. There is a Buddhist saying that everything in life is like a starving dog standing over a burning bowl of oil. The oil's too hot to consume, but the dog is too hungry to abandon it. Though some short bright sparks marked the fragile times sequentially between the black matter of long slow loss, all you could do was be patient. Wait for the constellations to rise again. But there's nothing to grab onto when they do.


And this is how you saw through The Pissing Contest.


It was infuriating to see men act all jealous when you spoke to other men, but then ignore you when you approached them alone. The only time they seemed to show any interest in you was when other men were watching. Especially those who employed you. All of your short-lived jobs in SF after Amoeba suffered from this dichotomy. Some kind of claim had been placed on your slaving ass, and it didn't matter how good of a job you did or didn't do. You were quickly fired for not complying with this other after-hours duty that was expected of you.


That was how you concluded that this real life video game had Absolutely Nothing To Do With You. You were just so much meat. A pawn made of pussy in the scheming between bored men competing with each other. They had no real interest in the winning "the prize" that they seem to be jostling over, but only in humiliating the other competitors for their own sense of pride.


Yup. That's how evolved we are. Might as well be beating on our chests, swinging in the trees, chomping on bananas and flinging shit.


Oh wait. We still are.




*u can call me ph!*

8.10.2016

13% [chapter 17]

HAUNTED CLOSETS


While you were still in college at the Art Institute, you flew from San Francisco to Utica, New York to visit your mom and dad during Christmas break. They lived in a beautiful old turn-of-the-century house with white plastered walls, all soft molded corners and black iron cornices. The windows were small and deep, some still retaining their original lead panes. The turreted two story cottage sat on a corner lot like a fairy castle in a Thomas Kincaid painting, embedded in a deep sloping wooded field, home to a raucous murder of crows.


Your parents were in the midst of trying to sell the house because your dad found a better job in Indianapolis and was moving there. But your mother was reluctant to go this time. She'd been teaching yoga classes in town and had developed a healthy sense of financial independence. She'd also grown close to a solid following of students that she didn't want to leave behind. One such student was her secret lover. So your mother stayed at the cottage in Utica while your father lived and worked in Indiana. Insisting that there were simply no offers on the property from any interested buyers, blaming the delay on the housing market, bad timing or whatever else --in this way, your parents' first real separation continued. And your mother finally seemed to come blossoming out of her shell.


Rather suddenly, she came out to you over the phone one day. Claiming she'd always been more attracted to women than to men ever since she was a teenager. You just said, "Okay..." She was so relieved to tell someone, "I knew YOU would understand." And for the first time, she seemed so happy and in love. "Life doesn't even BEGIN until you're 50!" she exclaimed gratuitously.


When you finally met your mom's girlfriend on another short trip to Utica, you definitely caught the spark. She was astonishing, overflowing with a quick wit and a bright eyed vitality. Part of you was truly happy for your mother's authentic joy. But another part of you was completely pissed off that she was, suddenly, so open and caring and warm toward you; sharing her untold stories, calling you all the time, asking your opinion about things, buying you plane tickets to come and visit her inbetween every semester, being there for you, all nonjudgementally -- just because she was now a lesbian. This kind of behavior never occurred before. Or since. And you really didn't give a fuck whether she was straight or gay. Sexual identities never shocked you.You just wanted to feel like your own mother genuinely loved and accepted you, too. But this point has always remained convincingly vague.


But for the short duration of this Christmas visit, your dad was also present, so you agreed to quietly avoid any and all discussions at the dinner table that might leak hints about your mom's newfound lesbianism. Ugh. The burden of secrets that are imposed upon us to keep. Add them to the scapegoat's unwanted heap. Then slap it's ass and hope that it takes away your wax doll guilts before running off the edge of something nonredeemably steep.


You were already bogged down with another secret you did not want; knowing that your father was beaten so severly as a child because his dad was sterile and knew this was not his kid. This secret, shared with you 15 years prior, wasn't revealed to your father by his own half-sister until after their
angry sterile dad was dead. When it was finally found out, he brought his shotgun to the cemetary and unloaded a round of shells into that plot of hallowed ground. Secrets cowards and shrouds, release the hellhounds.


The summer after graduation, after your last spring visit to Utica, a tumor had been found. Within 3 short months, your mom's girlfriend was dead. Brain cancer culled her, this fully functioning, highly intelligent older woman that had just taken you and your mom to a politically invigorating Edward Albee lecture was now instantly stuck bedridden. Losing her vision to a tunnelling darkness, her brain was quickly shutting down. She reached out her arms to everyone standing around her hospital bed and cried, "Why won't any of you help me?! Pull me out of this hole! Please, help me... I'm sinking!" Balking at the starkest futility.


More than a year passed before your mother told you about her girlfriend's death. She just stopped talking to you. As suddenly as she had begun. Soon after that, the cottage was sold and she moved to Indiana to rejoin her husband. Gone back to being the good ol' critical hetero milf. Mourning her lover and her lost self. Crammed back into the brutal closet. Shrinking. Forgetful. Unblest. You cannot even begin to imagine how sunken in run her regrets from doing all the things that were expected of her, being the "weaker" sex.


One stuffy night during that close to the chest stiff upper lip Christmas visit to Utica, you were trying to sleep in the tiny room upstairs while your parents were in their bedroom across the hall. It was freezing cold, yet under the covers you felt feverish and clouded. Burning in discomfort. Sick with unease. You kept slipping in and out of consciousness. Not into dreams but into a thick swampy nightmarish lucidity. The crushing weight on your chest would not stop torturing you and stealing your breath as you lay frozen in sleep paralysis. It felt as if someone was trying to strong arm you into doing their bidding. "GET UP!" it hollered inside your sweaty immobile head. "Go downstairs. Into the kitchen. Open the back door. Grab the axe. Come back up here. And GIVE YOUR PARENTS WHAT THEY REALLY FUCKING DESERVE!!!"


The whole massacre played out, over and over vividly in your mind, as if this horrific scene were trying to convince you of its justifiable rationality. "Just think of how happy you will be once they are gone," the voice coaxed. It took a ton of light innocent resistance and a touch of dispassionate detatched indifference to not give in to this bottomless well of rage and bloodlust. Growing more irritated than scared, you declared impishly at the overbearing manipulative presence, "no. i won't. i won't do it." Perhaps it is a good thing that you're such a stubborn selfish bitch, eh?


The next morning, your mother looked concerned when she saw your pale sleepless face emerge from across the hall. She was dutifully making their bed. As she slid the bedframe to one side to tuck in the sheets, you pointed down to a dark brownish mark on the hardwood floor that was peeking out from under the bed. "Yeah," she said, revealing the whole atrocious width and breadth of the massive pooled stain, "I've tried everything to get it out, but it's too old and too deeply soaked into the wood. I think it might be blood."


Ya think?


But you thought nothing else of that night back then, except to remind yourself that you need to drink more booze and smoke more weed in order to drown out any and all experiences of psychic shit like this cuz you were too busy
trying to be normal, which is really important to most people before they go turning 30.


One huge advantage to age is that the number of fucks you give annually gets peeled away, until you are who you really are the moment you reach your grave. Sometimes it seems as if all those lucid dreams about flying, or altering your space, or learning how to keep still and protect your egglike shell, or increasing your skill for riding those emotional horses is all just practice for leaving this plane and crossing the bridge to the north.


Until you have to come back again. And again, of course. Life is hard, then you die. Death is hard, then you're born.



*u can call me ph!*

13% [chapter 7]

THE 3 FACES: IS THIS A DREAM?


Professional help never helped. Until one autumn day in 1990 when you felt compelled to seek the counsel of a Jungian psychotherapist in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts named Dr. John Huele. Initially, your parents agreed to pay for your weekly visits, relieved that at least you were finally out of their house and living "in squalor" in the big city. But once they received his bill for your first $90/hr session, they did not think your mental health was worth it. Dr. John did however, and asked you how much you could afford to pay without the help of your parents. So you continued seeing him for the next 18 months at the adjusted rate of $15/hr.


Long before the advent of hallucinogenic substances in your life, dreams had always been a place to receive guidance and insight, a place of both secret joys and enormous horrors. Often, it was easier to recall your childhood nightmares than to remember the actual events that took place.


The longest running reoccurring scene began at age 5. The whole family would sit in a small pink tiled bathtub inside a palatial space like a sound stage, always too brightly lit. One by one, they would pass around a plastic orange gun and point it at one of their own eyes. Pulling the trigger loudly sucked that eye out. Then they would all turn to you. Staring, one-eyed. The red hole of their newly exposed occular cavity dripping with bloody severed nerve endings. They'd hand you the gun and pressure you to do the same. Waking up screaming every time, your hands covered your face, guarding your precious double-eyed sight.


Together with Dr. John you moved through these quirky and cruel psychological imaginings, pieceing together an intricate and imposing map of your subconscious landscape. You began to uncover by emotional associations what certain colors, words, sounds, animals, people and places really meant. It was the only type of therapy you felt just as excited to engage in as did the Dr. himself. Whenever you would rattle on about the frustrating things happening in your regular life, he would patiently sit and listen. Inevitably, the words would come, "...and then, i had this dream," at which point, he would excitedly grab his yellow pad and pen and start scribbling down your dream's details like an inspired madman. The two of you would then set about working on the decoding process, slowly adding more elements to the expanding cartography of this emerging new found land.


It was fascinating and sometimes heartbreakingly illuminating. You would always have to take a step back in the presence of this other, higher mind. It would record and playback so many complex issues, effortlessly weaving together a song of solution, so delicate and so simple. You never felt quite qualified to take credit for coming up with these mechanisms for coping. They never seemed entirely yours.


Those sessions enabled you to first conceive of the viable possibility of self-healing through dreams. They birthed the connections your mind made to the infinite sources of healing energy out there in the unknown universe, inside the quantum omnipresent vibrating fields. You're forever indebted to the knowledge gained from Dr. John. You also thanked fuck that Jungian psychoanalysis existed at all. Otherwise, you might have succumbed to your parents wishes that you be committed to a mental institution for being depressed anti-social bipolar defective or whatever. It should come as no surprise then, that when you first heard the song "Institutionalized" by Suicidal Tendencies in 1986, you had found a long loyal friend in punk rock. And, incidently, the more involved you became with Jungian dream journeys into the collective world of ancient archetypes, mythological beasts, and other archaic symbols,the less involved you were with the outrageous consumption of drugs and alcohol in order to deal with the ongoing psychological and socioeconomic trials of anyone trying to stay alive below the poverty line.


Lucid dreams happened sporadically as far back as you can remember. But practicing "dream yoga" almost religiously, you were having sometimes 2 or 3 lucid dreams a night, most often in the form of nightmares. Gradually, you learned how to transform these repetitive haunted terrors. Becomming lucid, you could bolster the courage to take control of your own mind. The nightmares then began to diminish and nearly ceased. Getting to know those Black Dogs that chased you for so many years, you now took ownership of your imagination. You screamed at their snarling, "STOP!" No longer would you run from them. You stood still, commanding them with a pointed finger to "SIT." And they did. Their faces shifted to little grins with tongues dangling and tails began to wag. The Black Diamond Dogs became a crazy bitch's best subconscious friends.


However, for some reason, waking up from these exalted states of consciousness became more difficult. Equal amounts of curiosity and fear caused you to question the nature of reality itself in a much more intensely tactile way, having up to 8 or 9 "false awakenings" after each lucid dream. This was so exasperating that you worried if you would ever really wake up at all. And a part of you started to feel the distinction between real life and the lucid dream waning. Thinner and thinner. The difference was disappearing. It got to be a bit much.


This persistent fear of losing your mind, without the reliable excuse of being fucked up on drugs, induced a sober admiration for the practice and a larger sense of responsibility toward approaching this state of mind with sincerity, not aggression or greed. In return, you discovered many valuable truths within each dream's revealing riddle. It seemed these riddles were coming from, again, a source of higher intelligence you couldn't even begin to understand. Nor could you make any sense of why it would feel your damaged brain was worth receiving the wisdom embedded within these undazzling, but inspired insights.


Insights so hackneyed, yet they stood the test of time. Recalling these unvarnished mantras helped you regain a sense of internal calm while caught in the constant storms of stress and strife. All you had to do was take the time to look, feel and listen...because sometimes, it IS all too much. You get so tired of having to fight nonstop for every single little fucking scrap of some stupid bullshit basic need; like being heard, like being seen, like being treated with the barest thread of common human decency. Not being overlooked or ignored or cut off or pushed aside when waiting in line at the corner store or at a red light. Taking a timeout from society's infantile needs to go inward instead calmed you. It calmed the defeatism that would leak from feeling like the blank faced rusty little cog that amuses itself by squeaking in sync while it's trapped inside this massively malfunctioning male dominated earth raping kindness killing machine.


But this is life in the Natural World; even single-celled organisms have to defend themselves in order to survive. Every living thing is a sentient being, struggling just as hard as you to feel a momentary peace. Every single molecule is capable of reflecting intentions, of resounding vibrations of consciousness. Paying attention to those equally sentient cells involved alongside you in the act of living, breeds compassion and kinship. Insights are then bestowed upon us all when we open ourselves to the auras within empty spaces because they are Not Empty At All.


Put into the context of each individual's map of their own subconscious symbolism, any manner of things can take on new magical meanings, or renew a childlike curiosity with the mysteries of life. And despite society's attempts to carve, cut, shock, tranquilize and otherwise mute different kinds of creative thinking, as a species, we continue to be mystified with the ancient ancestral magic of dreams, with the connection we all have to the collective unconsciousness, with the innocent divinity we keep secret but secretly celebrate inside our sleeping minds as it delights us with it's absurd little insights on the nature of being.


Absurd little insights like "There is no such thing as Winning, there is only Spinning"- a phrase accompanied by an image of the cyclical rotation of the earth that occured while you were, once again, feeling like a total failure and considering suicide.


A song, whose humorous showtuney chorus,"Men are Minor, Waste of Eyeliner," was a response to your frustration with the misogynistic inequality you repeatedly confronted both in your intimate relationships and at work.


Your personal favorite, "If you take lots of small steps to hell, you will end up in hell. If you take lots of small steps toward heaven, you will end up in heaven."


After the more recent addition,"All there is is IS," you found some sense of ease in regard to making big life altering decisions, viewing the consequences of your choices as neither good nor evil, but knowing that no matter what you chose to do, all you would ever have to deal with is exactly what is in front of your face. Every decision therefore forces you to face simply THIS. And this 3rd face then revealed itself to you as a face that is All Faces, yet faceless.



*u can call me ph!*

7.05.2016

13% [chapter 16]

TRUKLIFE


In May 2007, as a last desperate attempt to revive your sputtering relationship, you and Evan stopped doing drugs and drove a rented 16 foot moving truck from San Francisco to Chicago, delivering his sister's furniture to where she now lived. Armed with 2 weeks free from work, an old school Nikon camera and rolls upon rolls of 35mm film, you went the long way around. Avoiding all major highways, it came as a complete surprise to stumble upon one static and decaying town after another. All those bustling hubs that once thrived from the railroad traffic that steadily flowed through til the 1930's, but got choked off by interstate highways, slowly subsided and died. You took hundreds of photos portraying the sad beautiful things life had left behind.


Fords with open suicide doors ditched in dry deer tick fields encrusted with snakes and rust. Dandelions and ivy sprouted up through bathtub drainplugs. Bedsprings clung to plastic bags blowing in the breeze. Windmills missing most blades still turned with a squeak. Schoolhouses buckled under warped belltowers that won't ring. Potbelly stoves stood more solidly than the homes they were once warming. Swifts and swallows nested in a hand painted nursery. Owls guarded proudly marked depots where trains no longer came. Rodents undermined an efficient bank office filing system. Pigeons cooed and pooped all over an empty factory lunchroom. Dark crooked barns, leaning at a frail 45 degrees, were propped up with feeble sticks to combat the inevitable sag of gravity.


Arriving in Portland, Oregon one rainy Monday night, being in an urban environment made both you and Evan want to get high. To quell the drug cravings, you instead got wicked drunk pretty quick at a little bar on the north side. Usually, this doesn't work and only makes the cravings worse. But for some reason, it distracted you from going out on the prowl just long enough this time. Staggering back to where you had parked, you both decided it would be easier to pass out in the back of the truck than to slovenly drive to some cheap motel that was nowhere near in booze-goggled sight.


It was freezing cold. Evan lit the propane gas stove and camping lanterns, turning up their hissing blue glows as high as they would go. You tugged out a long couch from under a pile of boxes. He rolled down the back door and yanked up a bunch of moving blankets. Collapsing there together, curled up for warmth, Evan commented, "We might die of asphyxiation if we leave the gas on all night." You slurred, "So what...at least I'll die happy." "Me too," he replied.


As grim as it might sound, that was one of the most intimate and romantic moments of your life -- facing such a silly demise together. After so much hard lined loss had dredged up all your disappointed desires, this gentle surrender to death was a sweet little delight. In the morning when you both woke, you collectively sighed, "Oh well, we're still alive," and smiled. Rolling up the back door invited the bird songs and dew drops and rising sun's light to come in. Full on. Hangover bright.


While pulled off onto a dirt road somewhere outside Missoula, Montana, Evan was putting another pot of coffee onto the stove. You sat on the couch, smoking a cigarette, looking out past the rolled up door to the lolling yellow ochre expanse of open prairie. Pale violet peaks teased it's distant edges. Endless and abrupt. Sustaining winds whispered and hummed. Pink clouds drifted down. Waist high grasses swayed and bent, swishing like a woman walking in a long tafetta dress. Taking a snapshot of Evan against this backdrop, you said, "I could live my whole life like this." He answered, "Yep." Then you took a long clean deep breath.


This idea of living in a housetruck was neither new nor novel.


You first considered it a future possibility when you were still a kid in the late 70's, during one of the many long drives your restless parents took across the country to attend Amway conventions. Another one of their attempts to succeed at building a pyramid scheme American Dream of materialistic prosperity. But you noticed that while on these road trips, there was a consistent absence of the violence and abuse that was so common during periods of housebound stagnation.


Maybe it was being in motion that made attitudes shift. Or the limitless light in the big round sky stretching over wide carved out canyons. Or the acerbic serenity of change itself that smoothed the behavioral snags into well-contained conduct. No one knows, but these motorhome memories were happy and golden-hued for everyone in your entirely damaged family.


While traveling through Europe in your early 30's, you befriended a photographer in Ghent named Wim. He lived in a converted 20 foot freezer truck he called Babu. He drove Babu all over the place. From his home town in Belgium to Ireland, Croatia, Russia, Mongolia, Morocco and back, always taking pictures of the people he'd met along the way.


One such image held your gaze, spellbound. It was a black and white portrait of a handsome middle-aged woman sitting on the wooden steps at the door of her vividly decorated caravan. Wearing a thick sweater, rain boots, and smoking a hand-rolled cigarette, her long dark hair was pulled back into a loose bun, but riotous strands broke free and were blowing in the breeze. From a hook under the stairs hung an empty bucket. At her feet sat a muddy mutt, smiling up at the camera playfully. She did not smile but stared off to the left, deep in thought, a thousand kilometers beyond the lens. You could sense that the reality of her life was not easy. Yet this picture sang a song of raw liberation, a lament of redemption. Perhaps society had exiled her to the bitter margins, but she exuded a contented resilience, a defiant inner strength. Inspired, you could see yourself living well like this woman. Solitude, animals and nature are your most trustworthy all-weather companions, too.


More than a decade later, during the autumn of 2011, you got the chance to revisit Wim and his housetruck in Belgium. He was now married with a 4 year old daughter, a black cat and a large comfortable RV in tow. Babu functioned as the "guest house" in which you gratefully spent a week living simply. You took to it immediately. Like a fish inside a duck to water.


The housetruck's shower was in need of some plumbing repairs. Early one October morning, you could no longer bear your own ripe stench. You didn't want to wake up Wim and his family next door in the RV. So with a clean towel and a full gallon jug, you walked out into the woods beyond the industrial lot where you were all parked next to a friend's circus caravans restoration and repair shop.


Dumping water over your weary body, the invigorating icy coldness made you gasp for breath. Swabbing soap around in the roguest spots, rapidly rinsing, gasping again and dancing like a spaz, you quickly dried off. Clamouring back up into the warmth of Babu, you whipped on some clean clothes, that, by comparison, smelled almost heavenly.


Then you sat down and smoked a cigarrette on the stoop, checking out the updated status of the sunrise. With wet hair on your warm head, foggy wisps of vapor trailed off to join the haze of dawn's discreet ascent. You couldn't remember the last time you felt so alive. So quiet inside. Or so clean, emotionally. Although you were still hopelessly mired in the cross-continental smuggling embrace of an ether-soaked amphetamine addiction and global alcoholism, here, in this hidden back lot, you were cloaked with invisibility for at least a week. Free in the anonymity. Somewhere so much closer to safe.


9 days later, you were walking down a London street toward Victoria Station to ride the tube to Heathrow and board the plane back to San Francisco. You heard the startling sound of a pack of mad dogs barking orders behind you. "Dump the drugs!" your intuition distinctly heard them say. Weird, but ok.


So you took a quick detour into a local pub next to the Eurolines bus station and ordered a cup of coffee and a glass of cognac. Locking yourself in a toilet stall, one of the few places you ever felt unsurveilled, you methodically did line after countless line, devouring all of the substances you had left in your possession. So much so, you felt gluttonous and nauseated half way through. But waste not, want not. You couldn't bring yourself to throw away perfectly good drugs. Spread out over a cd cover of "The Fountain" soundtrack, each powdery pile that got injested slowly revealed more of the mesmerizing image on the cd cover beneath. The words that appeared there, "Death Is The Road To Awe" would be imprinted indelibly upon your memory for the rest of your at-risk life. You had no idea you were still capable of getting this stupidly Whoa Hey Goofy Magic Mountain high. Oh holy shit. Hold on tight.


Immediately upon arriving at the airport's security checkpoint, one of the uniformed guards pointed you out in line. As if to say, "She's mine!" Every square inch of your baggage was manhandled, scanned and rescanned, sniffed, rubbed down and rifled through for such a long time that you would now have to run impossibly fast in order to make it to your gate before departure time. They even confiscated your box of matches. You complained that you had a stop over in Chicago and would want to smoke a butt after the long flight. The officer snarled and threw down a single match. You bellowed, "I said, CHICAGO! It's called 'The Windy City' for a reason! Wanna gimme more matches, please?!" She acquiesced politely to your request. You were now allowed 2 matches but nothing on which to strike them. Dismissed. Next!


In the ensuing funnel of chaos and on the verge of a panic attack, 3 separate strangers empathized with your obvious plight and gently said reassuringly, "It's going to be alright," at each heaving pause while waiting for the next disasterously overcrowded shuttle car or at the bottom of every compressed escalator line. After being run through the vigorous gauntlet of official friskings, you took off without grabbing your wallet which held your passport inside. Somehow, it arrived before you did at your departure terminal. You didn't even realize you'd left it behind. "Oh, THANK FUCK!" you screamed as the smirking airline employee shoved it into your sweaty palms just as you were slipping through the swiftly closing gate.


Running onto the plane, you were so exasperated you thought you might vomit, have a heart attack or just faint. But none of these things happened. The stewardess held your shaky shoulders steady, gave you a glass of water and showed your toxin soaked body to it's assigned seat. As soon as you'd buckled yourself in, you threw the soft blue complimentary blanket over your head and began quietly sobbing like a little child. Not due to any invasive anger, but because you were too overwhelmed with gratitude.


Gratitude for the dogs that warned you to get rid of your stash. Gratitude for the completely unexpected kindness that came from those 3 strangers each time you nearly lost the plot during your mad dash. Gratitude for those who had returned your wallet and passport back to you in time. Gratitude for the airline staff who recognized but did not ridicule your messy distressing display of anti-ennui. Gratitude for all the choices you had made, even the ones
disguised as mistakes, which were now easier to define between the voluptuous bookends of a decade. Although those decisions had born hardships, they also lit the way to this self-sufficient life in which you were now wed to music and art, not breeding more resentful spite.


Saf, another old friend from Ghent, had commented on this devotion to creativity you were still engaged in when he said,"I can't keep up with you, crazy." Ten years ago, he was too self-conscious to stand up in front of people and sing the songs he was writing back then. You bombarded him with encouragement, saying, "Fuck Them, Saf! Do it anyway cuz one day, yer gonna be dead. And so will they. So who gives a fuck!?" He recorded his first album that summer and was now one of Belgium's most celebrated performers, "The Flemish Tom Waits". Gratitude that, even though Saf never acknowleded this or said thank you, here was real proof that one person's kind words could make an actual difference in another person's trajectory. Recompensed and respected, words now became something so much closer to sacred.


And gratitude for this melting pocketful of Belgian chocolates that you were now gobbling down and offering to the Indian man beside you. Because, when you removed the blanket from your swollen tear stained face, he looked worried about sitting so close to your highly charged emotional state. This was your way of telling him, "It's ok. I'm ok." He shook his head side to side, smiling, and relaxed back into his window seat.


And then came that shifting lift from asphalt to air, held again in Ariel's arms, on tenderhooks but holding it mostly together, swimming through space, peacefully sighing, "Everything's gonna be ok...everything's ok...it's all alright."


*u can call me ph!*

13% [chapter 15]

ALTAR TO ALTERS


By December 2005, you gave yourself the best and worst xmas present ever: Speed Psychosis.


Christmas was always a hard time. Just like it is for a huge percent of the population that lives in familial denial. Most turn to their friends to get through it with some sense of contentment and fellowship. But if no one really enjoys your company, then drugs will do just fine to kill the time.


You were actually in a great mood. So happy to be left alone with this big frosty snowman made outta meth stacked high in front of you. 12 different half finished projects laid strewn haphazardly about the room. All the roommates had gone away to their respective warm holiday gatherings. Sucks to be them, you thought, with not a shred of envy.


You were so glad that you wouldn't have to get into some pointless political argument with one of those right wing bigots related to you. Or hover over a bowl of green beans and mashed potatos while everyone else ridiculed you for being vegetarian. Or hear, yet again, that forced age old question of, "When are you gonna settle down, get married and have some kids with whichever man is crazy enough to have you?!" Always followed up with, "Aww..whatever happened to that guy Zack? You should've married him when you had the chance." Or laugh about that time when your dad, in a drunken frenzy, carved the turkey with his bare hands. Grabbing, mangling and throwing the much labored-over carcass all over the room. Cursing as each limb smacked up against something and fell to the floor, greasily doomed. Picking up the whole table, he flung it over. Toppling off into broken shards went the glasses, the good plates and all trimmings of that delicately prepared meal. Your poor mother sobbed, numbly clutching a broom. But the dog was happy as fuck that afternoon.


Nope, not this year. You could do whatever the hell you wanted to do in this big empty house. So you joyfully consumed almost that entire huge chunk of meth over a heap of sleepless hours. They blurred together in a revolving shock of night/day/night/day with the unforgiving flux of time lapse photograhy. This extensive holiday would forever alter the internal workings of that person you thought was you and only you.


To understand what birthed this seasonal hatred of Christmas, several attempts were made via dream healing and concentrated meditation to trace it back to it's origin: Germany, 1972. You were 3, your brother was 5. The two of you woke up and excitedly started playing with the new toys you'd received for Christmas the day before, all spread out on the floor of the bedroom at 4 or 5 in the morning. Suddenly, the door burst open. Your infuriated red-faced father screamed that it was too early to be making noise. Your brother chirped, "But Daddy, lookie what Santa gave me!" He held up his bright blue Tonka dumptruck gleefully. Your dad grabbed him by the wrist and flung his entire body across the room. He bounced off the wall and landed head first on the floor in front of you. Through your terrified screams you heard a splitting sound. The pretty porcelain tea set you were playing with was broken. For years that's what you believed shattered at that moment. But it was not the china cracking. It was your brother's bones.


Something else snapped then, too. Willy appeared. Sitting there next to you. This happy little 4 year old boy, tenderhearted and true. His calming presence acted as the gatekeeper to all the other alters who would later join him and you, one by one, over the next several years every time a new trauma broke into you. But you never saw them coming. It was only a sneaking suspicion. Like that weird feeling you get when someone else is watching you.


At 12, you saw that movie about a woman with multiple personalities called 'Sybil'. Your reaction to it was, "I'd never be lucky enough to have that problem." Not good enough to have a mental disorder. Not good enough to have a built-in defense mechanism for dealing with life threatening stresses. The ultimate in self-deprecation.


Not even halfway through those 4 days that you spent spun up as fuck, having an enjoyable White Christmas, all of your busy bodied building projects became just background noise to something else that was conspiring for your attention. People began appearing solidly before you. Saying nothing. Just sitting there. Staring at you. How rude.


It was annoyingly disconcerting to look over and see a young boy with eyes wide as saucers, his entire fist shoved into his mouth. His other hand gently caressed his crying girlfriend's head, laying there limp in his lap. Long hair covered most of her face except where it had matted down in her streaming tears. One wet eye peered straight out at you. No amount of pleading, cajolling or yelling seemed to dislodge their dreamlike presence there on your bed. And when you moved around to different parts of the room, only their eyes followed. Creepishly boring into you. This real life nightmare had only just begun.


And here you were, so happy to be left alone for Christmas.


Yet the whole house began filling up with strange people staring at you. There was no escape. No matter where you looked or didn't look. Even with your eyes closed. Everything,everywhere was matrixing into another staring accusatory face in some phase of physiological decomposition or distorted with agonizing bliss.


You tried to amuse yourself with silly ideas. As if all of these figures were the trapped souls of people who died from drug overdoses on this holy holiday. And they all came here to Partay! Wooohooo!! But no amount of dark humor could curb the increasingly unfunny haunting invasion flooding your room, filling the hallway, coming up the stairs, walking around outside the window. It began to frighten you, this complete loss of control. And soon you felt a greater empathy for those schizophrenics on the street as they stand there yelling in the bus stop or at a garbage can, toward someone no one else can see. Stuck in the torment of a terrified brain in crisis, hallucinating mercilessly.


After a couple more day/nights of this, you became so scared, so backed up into the corners of fear, all you could do was sit in the lukewarm bathtub. In the dark. Crying. Then you started singing to calm yourself down. It brought a tiny respite. Silver Bells. Noel. Silent Night. Still the unblinking eyes did not subside. They found their way to you through the faucets, the shower curtain, the peeling light blue paint on the walls and on the ceiling of the bathroom.


So you started praying. "And yea though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i shall fear no evil for thou art with me..." Over and over until the bath water turned ice cold. Hot water on. Swirl around. Repeat for another rough ungodly hour. Never alone. Yet so totally alone in your own private hell.


Joseph Campbell once said, "The path is from dreams to visions to gods. All the tomorrows, all the yesterdays are within you. All the hells, all the heavens are within you. All the gods are in you." So you reached out for someone else.


Evan soon showed up after you finally made a frantic phone call for help. He took you to a large luxurious loft in West Oakland where he was housesitting. A completely muted neutral space. Even he became skittish, nervously laughing at the steady stream of nonsensical descriptions detailing these ornate hallucinations with which you were still carousing. He lead you over to the couch, sat you down and gave you a blanket to cover up your shivering, though not cold, body.


Through a tightly clenched mouth, a certain phrase kept repeating itself in broken consonate sounds, "GT STND! GET STND! GET STONED!" So you followed it's direction and got stoned. But it wasn't you talking. This was someone else.


At last, your panicked heart rate began to slow and the hallucinations eased off a bit, mutating into swirls and patterns instead of crazy judgemental dead toy faces. As you laid down, a high pitched ringing drowned out your ramblings. Then cold beads of sweat trickled down your neck. You wanted to vomit suddenly, but had nothing in your stomach. A dark cloud of bile forcibly ejected itself from so far deep down in your gut, it felt like your intestines were being ripped out. Out shot a hoarse blood curdling primal howl. And then, convulsions. Only one step left til Overdose. Death.


With spit flying through your teeth drilled shut like a vice, you tried to voice the words, "Immm hvinnng e seezure!" Evan replied, "What? You want a ceasar salad? I'm not sure if there's any parmesan in th--" "No! Imm hvinng a seezrr! A SEIZURE!!!" But your stiff electric limbs made this obvious by now. Your eyes rolled up into your head and you dropped off the cliff of muscle coordination like a piece of lead. Evan had enough sense at least to hold your head while the rest of your body spasms did their short circuiting stringless puppet dance. It stopped eventually. Then aftershocked over the next few hours in a fog of exhaustion and kinetic helplessness.


Gently, Willy's little face floated in front of you. All other hallucinations had ceased. His smile was so sweet and kind.You asked him, "Were you the one telling me to get stoned?"


"Yeah...we were scared."


"Who's we?"


Willy calmly asked if it would be ok for you to meet all the other alters.


"All the other alters? But...? I thought I didn't have any?!"


He giggled and said that they'd all decided you were too bossy, so they were just gonna hide until you needed them again. So here they were. One by one. Name. Age. Face. When and why they came to be living inside of you. And what they thought about what you were doing to yourself now. You sighed, "I'm so sorry..."


It felt wonderfully warm and loving, this unexpected intervention. This family reunion of secret selves who helped you cope for so many years. Who cared enough about you that they made sure not to show themselves off too much in front of society for fear of getting you thrown away into an institution. They did actually have your back. Even those who wouldn't acknowledge you since they were
so pissed about shit. Even those who would fuck every stupid dude that got drunk with you back in Boston because they were so into it. You still thanked them, though you weren't sure what good it would do. But they did actually care whether or not you lived or died because then, they would all either live or die too.


So much of the past made sense now. Why you never really felt alone. Why it was so neccessary to write everything down, to take photos, to document events and be sure they did actually happen. To keep a record. To keep track of time. Because you often found things written and recorded that you did not recognize or remember as your own. It was a beautiful, long overdue reception. An accidental healing that greatly improved your outlook on life. And Evan graciously sat there listening to this perplexing conversation you were having with all these imaginary people, watching over you as the discussion grew more peaceful. Until finally, you fell into a heavy comatose sleep.


Yeah, maybe it was just the drugs talking. But similar to feeling the presence of The Angel of Death, this kind of knowing experience was too far beyond questioning. So there was no need to quantify it's validity. It was as real as a dream within a life that is as real as the dream itself feels.


It was what it was.


When you woke up 2 days later, it took huge concentrated efforts to speak. Your mouth did not work right. You couldn't string together words or pronounce an understandable sentence. This was the scariest plight yet. Weeping, you were suddenly struck dumb. What if you had just damaged your brain so severly, you'd given yourself some form of cerebral palsy for the rest of your life?! Inside, behind your disabled tongue, you cried, "My God, What Have I Done?!"


MERRY CHRISTMAS DOOKIE HEAD!! Now, you may fully appreciate the ability To Speak. To Think. To Act Freely. To Write. To Feed Yourself. To Wash. To Pee. To Sit Upright.


The next day, you left Oakland to go start a new job at Amoeba Records on Haight Street. Evan said he was hurt that you spent those completely retarded out-of-your-mind nights quarantined to the couch, not sleeping in bed next to him like a good sane girlfriend should. But he could never understand that you already felt so crowded, the last thing you could deal with was being cuddled or screwed. Though you were grateful he showed up to help you, his emotional reaction to this insane situation said something about the clueless and unabashedly inherent selfishness of men. Maybe he felt you owed it to him since he protected your skull during those violent fits of convulsion? But you were too busy almost dying to think about how much he might need to get some head. Really rather unfortunate. From beginning to end.


Although psychologists are still debating whether or not multiple personality disorder even exists, you later researched the different wide ranging theories on this and wondered if 2 opposing conclusions might both be true. If trauma occurs before the age of 7, it is said, the child's brain is far more likely to fracture into different aspects as their personality has not fully formed yet. Those young brains, that in most other mammals, would still be in utero, are too tender and too vulnerable to withstand violent abuse, so it compartmentalizes itself as a natural coping mechanism. Another camp suspects that early trauma injures the aura's spiritual defenses and thus, opens the child up to being possessed by other entities. Maybe they are both correct? Perhaps those alternate personalities are just lost ghosts looking for another host to crawl into? And what better way to show your appreciation than by paying an emotionally protective rent to the original owner of the body that is now housing you? It's just a thought on a subjective goose that is difficult, if not impossible to prove.


Possible or not, that Psychotic Christmas was quite a gift. You recovered. And for a couple years, you severly cut down on your drug use. Because now, there were other people to whom you could turn to feel true long term love and gratitude.


All the hells, all the heavens, all the gods are within you.



*u can call me ph!*

6.16.2016

13% [chapter 14]

FIRESTARTER


And so it was that your love affair with crystal meth was rekindled like a house of cards on fire and smoldered until it was just a carbon fluke. It became a saving grace because you no longer cared. You could be spun up and in league with projects, theories and ideas for days, weeks, always. You never succumbed to bouts of loneliness because you were too busy cleaning, repairing or organizing some minute shit into the tiniest of enclaves. You bonded with meth, paint brushes and power tools instead of most women and men, on and off, for like, the next fucking decade.


But you don't demonize the drug for being there when you weren't there for yourself. It filled in a space. It occupied a time when you felt empty and heavy and gross and lost. Like good ideas unrealized. Like decent jobs laid off. Like old people crying because they can't remember their children's names. Like analog synths and tube amps trending on ebay. Original movies that need not be remade. Black mayonnaise. Kodachrome color. Super 8. Gone off. Long gone. Then insultingly regurgitated. Retro. Chic. Limp. Stripmined. Razed. It sucked to see history being co-opted by those who could afford to jack up your rent and take take take with an air of careless ease and entitlement. But nowhere near as painful as it was for more than 50 million Native Americans.


Ever so conveniently, your drug supply was now showing up in the form of giant fist sized boulders via your new boyfriend, Evan. Again, you were so low you would have done anyone that night you met him while getting drunk at Zeitgeist. Well, that is to say, you would have done anyone that Actually Managed To Turn You On, which was a complete rarity. Certainly, you never would have guessed that he'd still be hanging out with you the next day. But you also don't blame him for finding such melodramatic humor in watching the sharp arc of your orbit toward this fiendishly pathological habit you both shared over the next few years in close proximity.


Not the healthiest relationship ever, but at least you did feel some flashes of gushy love and deep compassion for him on more than one occassion. So much so, it still surprises you to think on all those amber impacted memories. Which is why you prefer To Not Think About Them. It's easier to concentrate on, and not cry about, what went wrong.


Evan was quirky and pretty fucking hot in his own weird way. Politically aware and musically inclined, he had a curious enthusiasm that was inspiring. Shaved blond head. Bright blue eyes. Hairless bulldog chest. Could keep it up for as long as it was required. Not afraid to go down on a woman. And not totally clueless once he arrived. Which must be honorably mentioned, for that rare oral sex equality that his willingness never belied.
Think: Giovanni Ribisi, tweaked. Uhhhmmgrrrr...right?


Initially, Evan said he loved that you made comix, music and art. But the second he had to take a back seat to the pencil and the Sharpie marker or the Korg Monotribe and the mixing board for a full afternoon or two, he felt neglected sexually. Only 6 weeks into your relationship, he cheated on you. Good to get that outta the way so quick, your favorite dog trick. But you saw it coming BEFORE it happened this time.


The moment you laid eyes on his sunglassed face that morning at your door, your head clearly said knowingly, "the next time you see him, everything is going to be different." He didn't show up that night like he said he would. Hours stewed slowly by. You sat at your drawing board but drew nothing. Just sat there. Randomly, you dug out an old copy of Nirvana's acoustic Lead Belly cover "In the Pines" and listened to it. Over and over and over. Doing line after line after line. Getting progressively angrier, more depressed and crying onto the sketchbook pages that remained mockingly unmarked and white. He finally showed up the next day all teary-eyed, telling you he got really drunk, fucked another woman, and spent the night. Yup. You already knew that. Then you turned around and started drawing again finally.


Sloppily, he offered to bring you some more drugs. He only spoke to your shrugging back. Yeah, ok. You thought this is the best kind of crack whore you could ever hope to be. "Alright, bitch. Bring it!" you snapped as he departed sheepishly. The truer gift was this voice of warning in your head because it was, once again, correct. And you had to celebrate the fact that you could still hear it under so much drug addled sleepless duress.


You soon forgave Evan for fucking someone else. So he cheated on you some more over the years. You knew it every time, yet let it go unconfronted as you had ceased caring what he did with his own dick by then. At least he was still talking to you like a human being, and that was of the utmost importance. You could accept all kinds of sexual deviance up the yin yang, so long as you weren't being spoken to like a dumbass.


He once said, "Every man has a stable. Every Single One."


How can any one woman believe that she means anything substantial to a man, when she's up against the bottomless sexual questing of one entire objectified and furthermore, self-objectifying gender? Unless he sees her as an equal human being, treats her the way he treats his best bro friends and not as a conquest or a trophy to make other men jealous, then it is impossible to ever be anything other than eventual sworn enemies. And Evan agreed. He was understanding, thoughtful and decent. Yet his dick still wandered from one "willing slit" (his definition) to his ex's address constantly. It didn't seem to matter how honest or in love or open you were with him. You would never be enough. So yes, caring became a commodity. Every year, you had a little less and less trust in love's truthfulness left.


Evan called himself a writer but the only writing of his that you ever read were the letters he prolifically wrote to you during those years. Then you read all the letters from his former girlfriends that he wanted to share with you for some strange tweaked out reason. This only made you realize the total futility of your presence in his life. Here were their similar reactions to all the same stories he told them just as he had told you. All the same songs on a mix tape sent to someone else. You saw yourself as simply another name that would be said to the next woman down the line. Erased was any sense of being different from any other interesting cunt he had loved fucking previously. It lost all it's uniqueness, the biological him combined with you; as if on some molecular level, the mixture of 2 specific people could create a sort of atom bomb of social change that found its genesis inside an explosive relationship, affecting all else around it. Like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, like Yoko Ono and John Lennon, like Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, like Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, like Mileva Maric and Alfred Einstein. That looks great written on paper to you for Valentine's Day in his blood, but loses all it's meaning when repeated like spam to every woman who ever bared her breasts to him.


Yes, you were a sucker for that soulmate myth. What woman isn't during a large portion of her child bearing years? It feeds into the operatic fantasies while trapped in that ongoing battle with your own hormonal body; that fight to the death between the womb's attempt to breed and the brain's raging need for independence, respect and liberty.


So how the hell would you know How To Have a Good Healthy Relationship? Your success to failure ratio is a solid 0:100%! Good job! By Jove! But you do know that being in a relationship IS A Job. So get yer head outta the stove and go make me some turkey pot pie, Ho!


Oh, and let's not forget to mention that ravenous animal living between your legs whose impetus to eat fuck and kill only increases exponentially when on amphetamines. Isn't it nice to think that a soulmate would still be there after the 8 ball is all done? Not leave you to wipe up the mess of those liquidy communal expressions of lust that are stuck and crusting over as you come down on your own? Better not come down then. Perhaps the destruction of monogymy's soulmate myth really was for the level best.


It is what it is.


Adopted as a toddler, Evan had managed to locate his biological mother after years of searching for her. You felt it neccessary to warn him that she might not be happy to hear from him. But he waved your pragmatic suggestion aside, and beamed with excitement. Their relationship was initially rebuked by his mother who had never informed her husband
or children of Evan's existence. Evan was crushed. His mother eventually came around, but their relationship remained tentative and strained. He probably felt it was easier to place that disappointment on you, instead of facing the truth of this difficult situation that fell so horrifically short of his long held fantasy filled expectations. You didn't blame him for being upset, but many pointless arguments ensued. You stuck to your guns, saying he was lucky to be raised by people that did love him instead of being treated like shit by his own flesh and blood.


You know someone is not listening to a single word you say when they tell you, "I am so sick of listening to you." No longer could you stand the feel of his skin against you in bed; all gropey, moist, disconnected, overfriendly and available to so many other women and men --yet so unjustifiably mad at you for fucking someone other than him once. Once.


You wanted to take a breather from "the stuff", as Evan so deftly called it. But he just kept bringing it over anyway and chopping that shit up right in front of your face. And when that voice in your head came back and said, "don't ever have children with this man because he will molest them," you were pretty much done. What a horribly cruel joke your life might have become -- it's likely you would've ended up in prison because if anyone, including your husband, ever raped your daughter or son, you would have castrated them.


Evan professed so strongly to be against the antiquated idea of marriage, yet he so quickly married the last woman he was cheating on you with. His opinion must have been as solid as catsick. Oh well. To each his own bowl of hell.


In fact, all of your former boyfriends got married almost immediately after the disaster of you occurred in their lives. Is that a compliment or an insult? Who gives a fuck. Probably had absolutely nothing to do with your narcissistic butt. But, like clockwork, they all contacted you down the road, having contracted that 7 year itch, post wife and kids. They wanted to relive the sexual exploits of their younger days with that crazy bitch that was into sucking dick, anal sex, other women, yadda yadda yadda, it was all ok, except putting them in diapers and playing with their poo. There was a reason you didn't want children. And you certainly did not get off on a man who fantasized about being a baby. More often than not, you'd end up being the man in every situation anyway and you hated that. But hearing from your ex-boyfriends again under this topic of discussion did nothing except depress the fuck outta you. These existential trainwrecks are neither here nor there, ultimately. So why go there? It was for these kinds of thoughts, specifically, that you turned to drugs to annihilate. Into ridiculousness. Black and white. Hard shorts cuts. Like a French movie. Absurd. The choices you made in life were yours to make. No regrets. Only pinched off torpid turds.


You still wanted to be good for something other than just sex. Other than just a jerk.


Long after the end of Evan, you kept his letters bound by a string. A more definitive fate would later bind them together forever better. Along with all the other remnants of all the men, all the women, all the leftover shrouds of hope, of fear, of failed careers, of love rage sex and dope -- Fire.


Disappearred. Up in smoke.


All those years of us being close for nothing but a ghost.




*u can call me ph!*

13% [chapter 13]

BLUE ICE


2004. Your friend crystal meth showed up to even the score.


You were at such a desperate low point, you would have done just about anything to avoid the monotony of failure. This time with speed, you thought it best to avoid people and parties like the plague. Not hard to do. Invites were not exactly pouring in aplenty.


The sudden deaths of 3 of your most kindred spirited aunts had already buried you in compounded grief that year. And a maddening attempt to escape California by relocating to New York City pummeled your rising humility into some of that class-conscious poverty you'd grown so accustomed to. But it's one thing to be broke and eating cheap oranges and avocado filled tacos and quite another to live on pizza slices and coke. So you crawled back to San Francisco with $10 left to your name and your tail firmly tucked between your toes. Lame. It was difficult to forgive yourself for going back. So you made some more epic faceplants. Fucking up. You were getting good at that.


Broken-hearted because for years, you believed the easily forgotten non-slurring words of a blackout drunk. Those lovely intimate moments that you obsessively replayed in your head whenever you felt too depressed to deal with people, they meant Absolutely Nothing. It turned out you were having an imaginary relationship with yourself. He was not there. With you. At all. Even when he was in the same room fucking you. What? Who? He could not recall. The sober version of him that you hardly ever saw was cold, kind of an asshole. But the drunk version acted like being with you was always new and exciting. In his mind, It Was Always The First Time. And you stupidly rearranged all sorts of important things in your life around this flying circus illusion that was just ding-a-ling tinkerbells toy pianos and moth eaten tutus, but you kept heading head strong for that fall. So we fall. And that's all.


There'd be other imaginary loves as well. But you pursued these individuals because you felt Psychically Pushed to. You were so confused as to the meaninglessness of this -- Why Be Shoved Toward Someone Who Had No Love For You? It was a crack in the glassy-eyed delusions of youth. Trying to find meaning or draw patterns in the chicken soup of life when it does not need to prove anything to you. It's just soup.


Much later, it came into view, the obligatory shattering of a crappy midlife crisis averting truth. The Real Reason Was This: You were pushed toward them so that you would become vulnerable, get rejected, feel abandoned, be miserable and then learn -- because if it didn't fucking hurt, you'd Never Learn -- that you must stop looking for someone to be there for you, stop looking for someone to love you, stop looking for someone to save you, stop looking for someone to kill you, validate you, make you feel less ghost-like and drifting. Stop looking for someone to entertain that static fear, to avoid that infinite loneliness, to distract you from that prison you put yourself in with constant aggressive self-defeating judgements. Stop looking for someone. Look for yourself. Look At Your Self. Eew. That's something no one really wants to do.


Next, you received a nice friendly eviction notice from the big cheap black mold and music infected warehouse where you loved living with members of some now-famous bands like CrackWAR, RubberOCement, Erase Errata and Thee Oh Sees. When you moved into the huge commercial space, it was decked out with empty server racks, miles of ethernet cable, dimpled nerf footballs and a white board hanging all askew. These words were scrawled across it in dry erase marker: THINGS TO DO: Claim Bankruptcy, Get Drunk, Look For A New Job. Mistakenly, you thought the dot com bubble had burst. But no. It grew back. And worse. So much worse. So so so much worse.


All this, on the heels of having just crawled out from under the fallout of a disasterous, yet memorable, European tour that effectively disbanded 7 years of collaborative work and
hard won efforts. ALL FOR NOTHING. You helped create the anarchic electronic record label from the ground up, but after the big tour, all of your work had been whitewashed out of existence. Mere moments after you left the collective, the label received a worldwide distribution deal with Revolver and AK Press. It included the entire catalog except, of course, they had already erased everything made under your Deletist namesake. The humor in this is not lost on you, even if all else was: the vinyl test pressings and master recordings, scores of 45s, stacks of cds, piles of videos and films. A veritable ton of hard work, all tossed onto the book burning pyre, as it were. And we all know what happens to a dream differed.


It didn't help that you were initially fucking the anarcho motor mouth that was Marco from Glasgow. It was his idea to start this record label slash collective that other people often ignorantly called a cult. Marco would never admit to having fucked you though. He always covered your face with his hands to muffle your moans so that no one else in your crowded flop house would hear him humping you. Immediately upon zipping up his Ben Davies pants, he would sing a line from that Ultravox song, "This means nothing to me...Oh Vienna!" and laugh.


But if it weren't for your resulting disgust, you never would have been outraged enough to write record and put out your first song, "I Feel Weird." It went on a loop like this:
we laugh / have sex / he disappears / i feel weird / cut him off / dye my hair / i don't care / attitude / he responds / i abuse / we laugh / have sex / he disappears / i feel weird. etc.


For the next few years, he sometimes fucked you on the side. You let yourself think that meant something. But now you were just like Zack, from the other side of that uselessly
cruel but opportunistic Luv Stick. Marco actually despised you for putting up with his domineering bullshit. He later married one of the other 2 females in the collective and moved to Italy. C'est la vie. C'est la fin. It was good that your eyes were gradually being torn open. So you chose to stay focused on all that you had learned about recording, mixing, performing, touring and releasing music --that's what Really Mattered to you, more than getting screwed.


In those years prior to youtube's existence, so much of your hands on learning had to come from being with men in person. Which undoubtedly led to someone else getting head in exchange for the knowledge shared with yours. Visual-centric learning disabilities and confused sexual worth is probably what blocked your painfully obvious free access to Library Books.


Whoa, hey, on second thought, maybe the collective could have been called a cult since the women were the ones doing all the heavy lifting and dirty work. Though, by that definition, it could be called Any Job. But no one would have paid any attention to the label at all if it weren't for the intimidating Scottish front man talking it up. Ye Olde Patriarchal Stamp of Approval makes a woman's efforts fruitful. Admittedly, you went all pear shaped because lopsided shit like this Will Drive Anyone Crazy.


But what did you learn while wading through all this stoopid gut wrenching interpersonal gobbledeegook?


3 things:
It's a Man's World.
You Get What You Settle For.
And Living Well is most assuredly, The Best Revenge.


So it was death with braised death on it, smothered in death sauce, on a bed of death flakes with a light dusting of powdered death on top. It doesn't just come in 3's, it also comes in 6's and 9's.


It was actually easier dealing with the cancer caused finalities of your favorite family members dying than to grieve over petty creative severings and abandonment by those still living, by those whom you thought were your friends. Far more damaging to realize you were just a joke to everyone than to deal with cleansweeping death. It's all the living remnants left.


It's all that trying. Trying to be loyal to a group, to something bigger than only you. Trying to bite your tongue and accept others as they are, even though they won't do the same for you. Trying to make something that's worthwhile, or good, something that moves others to mutter the simple phrase "thank you." But it's also the fact that after all that trying, you'll still only come to being a small box of gray dirt whose songs and stories went unheard. Doesn't it make sense that this is why it became so important that your efforts mattered to those around you? That you listened to them? That they'd listen to you?


...insert cricket chirps...


Yeah, it hurt. Most deaths do.


Every single time you picked up the full roll of toilet paper that sat on top of the empty cardboard tube still wiggling in the holder, you'd push the roll onto the wooden dowel and say to yourself aloud, "Everything you do in life is completely meaningless, but it is very important that you keep doing it."




*u can call me ph!*

6.14.2016

13% [chapter 12]

PINK ICE


As soon as you arrived in San Francisco, you didn't like it.


You were lonely. People were fake. They never did the things they said they would do. "No" was a word that had been removed from the Californian vocabulary. Instead, the red
herring "yes" would repeatedly waste an unprecedented amount of your time. "Flake" was a new word that took you only a week to learn, but much longer to assimilate. And everyone was so afraid of confrontation, you found yourself angrily walking straight through busy intersections, wishing someone would just have the moxie filled balls to yell "Fuck You!" instead of whimpering, "I'm sorry," when they were clearly not at fault.


Socially, this place confused you to no end, turning you into a tediously befuddled dingleberry. At every party you went to, you'd open your mouth and succeed in clearing the room. Dejected, the rest of the evening would be spent on the stairs or at the outer edges, smoking, being lurid and uncool. However, alone at night, when the jasmine bloomed and the eucalyptis trees near the sea breezed through, it was a beautiful refuge for someone who not only loves, but needs lots of unpopulated solitude. It was a gift in disguise that no one was ever there for you.


People said, "Don't go to the Lower Haight because it's dangerous." So you went straight there, only to discover this neighborhood was not filled with danger, just non-white folks. Obviously, that river of racism that runs underground throughout America, even this far away from the other regions in which you had already witnessed it's ignorant shame was still firmly held in place. But what did you expect?Equality? Justice? Such fabulous notions that have yet to actually surface. Seems it would be easier to raise the dead. Or see white cops getting convicted for killing black kids. Or experience corporations being held accountable for crimes against humanity. Or accept generally that the protection of bees, coral reefs, forests, oceans, rivers and streams is more neccessary for long term survival than money. Or, even just receive equal pay without having your body parts felt up every other fucking day.


Isn't it obvious why you cleared every party?
So anyway...


Renting the cheapest room you could find for $243 a month in an old run down but rent controlled victorian at 2429 Mission and 20th Street, you discovered you had become broke ass, so it was too late to bail. You got a minimum wage job at the Lumiere Theater on Polk Street. Now all you had to do was deal. Deal with every mistake you had already made, and look forward to all the bigger and better mistakes in which you would soon wholeheartedly engage. Whoopee!


The first friend you met was a guy from D.C. named Josh. He was beautifully gaunt, like an Egon Schiele drawing. Also into industrial and goth. Having sex with him was like admiring exotic tropical fish in an aquarium -- always just out of reach emotionally, as if he didn't need to breathe the same air. But he did share with you what he was breathing, and you leapt right into that enticing pool without holding your breath.


Crystal meth was an entirely new drug to you. Nothing like the white cross kinds of pre-teen speed you did back in New Jersey. These virginal pink batches were particularly pure, if you can call battery acid, paint thinner, anti-freeze and psuedoephadrine pure. But one thing was for sure - it made vapid people a lot easier to deal with.


You were quite content to see life through planet sized eyes. Greeting strangers on the street, your head focused on what was in front of you, not cast down beneath everyone's feet. This action itself was formerly utterly foreign to you. Released from oppressive self-doubt, speed punched you in the face repeatedly. Like doing shots of whiskey or absinthe
or everclear - it's a good painful kiss. Like a natural disaster forcing you to face your own insignificant mortality. Every line that pummeled your crusty nasal causeway seemed to balance out your downer brain. Everyone said it would make you go all paranoid. But you became Less Paranoid. This drug made you feel like A Normal Person somehow. As if your life was not a series of Total Shits. But it is still a drug. Not authentic joy. Meh...who fucking cares? It was the best you could do back in '93 thru '94.


At one particularly memorable all night party in a sticky sparsely furnished living room overlooking the corner of Haight and Fillmore, every glistening skinned, green and purple haired tweaker was there. All talking nonstop simultaneously about their childhood traumas. But no one was listening. No one.


Uncomfortably half seated in the corner of the room, twitching and fighting off nausea and the taste of tin foil on your tongue, you began to wonder if there was some kind of connection between addiction and child abuse. All of them barely older than you. All of them fucked since day one. All of them escaping life since day two.


In addition to that non-shocking theory: On a road trip to a book convention with the SF Homeless Coalition some years later, the passengers that filled the 12 seat van all shared their own stories of being unloved before they became unsheltered. Fueled by a steady stream of brown bagged beers, it became apparent on that 6 hour drive that every single person in that vehicle - the homeless men and women, the coalition volunteers, the legal advocates and the driver of the van - had all been abused as children. Coincidence? You wish.


But back at that tweaker party on Haight Street, you left the loud chaotic chatter behind and sat alone on the stairway, as usual, feeling doomed. That was the first time you decided to quit your infatuation with crystal meth. Even though it felt so good, not being constantly filled with the dreaded depression of fear. It felt so good to have the energy to Do Shit instead of just lying in bed, crying for no good goddamn reason, feeling sorry for yourself, wasting another year. This drug got you to Work On Time! Your customer service skills went through the roof! But meth's effects were socially futile if they only resulted in verbal avalanches onto those who would never listen or come through for you in tense real life situations. The shit Real Friends do. Even though, in truth, drugs were better friends than people were to you.


There was also that hope you were still holding onto. Hope that there was Someone Out There For You. Still young and stargazing across that superfluous indoctrinated bromantic notion that obscures the reality of most women's lives; lives that are actually filled with fateful losses, repeated betrayals and discriminated subversions. But it's all roses and sunshine after finding That Man That's Right For You. Sure it is.


Before quitting meth, however, you managed to bust your new boyfriend's cherry with it. Josh didn't love you so you fucked Zack. You thought it was only going to be a one night stand. But Zack kept coming back. He did love you. And you hated him for that. Doing speed with him only once, you became even more annoyed with his clinging and wished you could be less of a mouse trap.


So you quit meth. Just like that. No severe aftermath. No zombie fried brain damage, at least not more than you already had. You forgot all about it. And instead, returned to drinking booze regularly and smoking chronic amounts of weed daily. That seemed to hold the reality, nihilism and psychic visions at bay for a full foggy decade.


You couldn't afford the colossal tuition at the Art Institute, so you took lots of $13 classes at City College and spent all of your free time falling into the colorful spreads of Sandman and Tank Girl instead. Art was not dead.


Eventually, you were offered a painting scholarship that partially paid your way into the Institute regardless of your pennilessness and general negativity. Student loans that grew like gall stones covered the rest. After 3 years of taking a range of interdisciplinary courses while holding down 2 part time jobs, you graduated with honors and awards. This was your one true success. Memorably short. Still unpaid for.


During that entire time, you kept trying to get rid of Zack. But, if Zack was so irritating, one might ask, why did you stay with him for so long? Because nobody else was calling you. Yup. It was as shallow and pathetic as that.That one-sided relationship in which you became the domineering dickhead tyrrant. A horrible example of how not to behave toward someone who did nothing to deserve such abusive treatment, except put up with it year after year.


Constantly, Zack was trying to thaw your frozen disposition. You were repulsed by how joyous he always was. Like a puppy. It made you sad that you couldn't get Psyched or Stoked about stupid things like sitting in hammocks or flying kites. He'd have to rouse up your spiraling downer ass to go skydiving or go for motorcycle rides at night. You did feel all of the awesomeness in all of these awesome things eventually, but your happiness never seemed to last quite as long as his. And this was the "healthiest" relationship you ever thought you had. HA HA! It turned out to all be bullcrap. Many years later, you found out that Zack was slamming meth the whole time you were together. He kept his shit well concealed under his chess set from the self-obsessed mess that was his wacko art school girlfriend. Not actually a difficult task.


For some reason though, finding out about his hidden addiction made you like him slightly more than you ever did before. All sorts of things made sense in this new context. But you still would have treated him like doggy doo doo, doing whatever was necessary to stop his spazzy ass from putting you on a pedestal. You hated that he allowed you treat him like crap, wishing he'd get some self-respect and give up on you so that you could appreciate his kindness after it had been removed. But no. Meth or no meth, this nice boy was never going to Deliver You. And that's what you were really looking for. Although this unconscious drive went unrealized until after reaching the age of 42.


Except for that one night in the summer of '95 when you got shit faced drunk in front of all of Zack's high school buddies in Bend, Oregon. You did a terribly awkward stripperish performance at his friend's bachelor party. It made some of the guys in the room leave for the tranquility of the back porch, perhaps out of pity for your sorry unskilled act. Zack, however, couldn't be happier that his girlfriend was getting naked in front of all of his friends as they hollered obnoxious platitudes at your ass. Looking over at him, shining the spotlight on all of your exposed damage, he just sat there smiling. You started to feel weird, but kept on stripping. Nothing was sexy. Becomming more and more freaked out at this bizarre scene that you had entered into voluntarily, the only thing you could do to stop from either laughing or crying hysterically, was to turn around and focus on me. I took you away instantly. An insulin reaction whited you out, and you fell into a petit seizure. Show's over, choads.


Afterward, in the middle of a sleepy provincial street, at the top of your lungs, you shrieked, "Why Can't You Just Fucking Kill Me!?" Zack cried, "cuz I love you...why would I want to kill you?" This embarrassing little onslaught had slipped your mind until recently when it came back to haunt you like a spiteful giggling wraith.


Courtney Love life stinks. Fuck that donkey headed sociopathic attention seeking bray. It killed Kurt Cobain, whose death you celebrated because he was lucky to have escaped before more of his sexually abused yet self-realizing spirit could be winnowed away.


There should be some remorse for having turned out Zack to a life of drug abuse, but there isn't. Perhaps because no blame was ever placed on those who brought it to you. The choice to snort that shit rests firmly on your own slouching shoulders, so you don't see the point of feeling guilt over the choices other people are capable of making for themselves. Or if they choose to squarely place that blame on someone else. But if you must blame anyone, blame Del. And by Blame, I mean, Feel Undying Gratitude Toward.


Sometimes when an experience begins to happen that will later become a much revisited memory, a subtle but noticeable shift occurs. It's as if regular life turns into a cheesy sci fy movie and you are witnessing a portal in time being unearthed. A thick silence echoes at the start. Then colors saturate as if all the things you see are layers upon layers of the same image on a transparency. Sounds knell like you're at the bottom of a well. It feels as if all of your future selves are psychically crowding around, one for each time you will remember this particular hell that you are about to enter into. Remember to breathe and pay close
attention to everything, for here comes a memory forming that you may or may not live to tell. One such event occured at a party in the spring of '96 on the corner of Oak and Fell.


Wandering around outside the house since you were too stoned to deal with people, you gazed up at the sullen moon and took a photo. The scent of something dreadful about to happen wouldn't quit stalking you. The air held a trace of blood. Iron. Water and rust. Death.


Inside the party, Del had arrived to a loud round of approving yells. He was a local fixture. Always drunk. Always fucked up. Always decked out in leathers and a frayed Einsturzende Neubauten tshirt. Black hair greased back. Reeking of sexuality and a healthy portion of isolated emotional torment. Hung like a unicorn, he could charm the pants off both women and men, in numbers that would rival a rebel army. And everyone loved him. Despite all the fucked up shit he pulled, all the wobblies he threw. Crazy only looks good on someone beautiful.


Staggering outside to his motorcycle, clearly beyond being able to ride in a straight line, you jumped in front of his bike. Straddling the front tire, you yelled that he could not leave yet because if he did, he would get into a horrible accident. You felt so strongly compelled to help him avoid this awful thing that was about to befall him that it wasn't even You being compelled. No part of your own ego or personality was involved. You had long since gotten out of the way. This pulsating wave of words came barrelling down through the top of your skull and out your mouth with such determined ferocity, all you could do was let it ride. It was uncontrollable, like vomiting profusely. Del practically ran you over, vehemently bellowing, "Outta my way, you crazy bitch!" And sped off, up the hill.


People had come outside from the party because of the commotion. You started to walk home down the hill. 7 seconds later came the squeal thump crash and crunch that was Del getting hit by a car that ran the red light. It ruptured his spleen, fractured an arm and a leg, broke his ribs and collarbone, collapsed a lung and concussioned his head. His favorite tshirt was torn for good as the paramedics cut through his clothes. Shivering straight up through the middle, they revived his blood soaked body in the bright strobing ambulance, then went screeching and wailing away.


He spent 3 weeks in and out of the Intensive Care Unit at SF General. You went there nearly every day to make sure he was going to be ok. You told the hospital staff you were family, but everyone knew Del didn't have any. This wasn't his first, nor his last visit to SF General. Each time he came to, he'd angrily yank out all of his tubes. When his eyes focused, he was fucking pissed. "Death was so beautiful...I don't wanna still be alive," he cried. The nurses told you his lung had collapsed again during the night. You wiped off his sweaty forehead as they routinely reinserted his tubes. He fell back asleep and did some more healing while also detoxing from the massive amounts of amphetamines that flooded his veins for most of his high velocity life. Despite his best efforts, Del survived.


As you stood over his bed with that sweaty cloth in your hand, it came as a complete surprise to realize that you DO have a single nurturing bone in your body. It was not broken.


This attention you were spending on Del infuriated Zack to no end. He jealously accused you of having feelings for his drug dealer and likely secretly gay lover. And maybe you did, who can tell? You thought yourself lucky to feel anything at all, no matter upon whom the target of your affections fell. But Zack had no clue as to all the spookiness that had precluded this accident. And that trying to grasp the meaning behind all of this weirdness was really what was propelling you. Yet nothing was discovered.


Not long after that, Zack left SF for Canada and got married to someone else. After being discharged from the hospital, Del got engaged and moved to the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge with his new fiancee. You would not run into him again for another 15 years. He was still not dead.


It snidely besotted you on the odd occassion, however, that if you hadn't tried to stop Del from riding off that night, if you hadn't caused all those moments of obstruction with your Kiss of Death Premonition, he might not have gotten into that accident at all.


"Everything's my fault."


Being a control-freak to the Nth degree, years of failed attempts to formulate trusting friendships with people forced you to gradually calm that compulsion to hound others unneccessarily. It focused you on controlling only those things you Actually Have any loose cannon control over: You yourself, that dissociative low self esteeming twat of yours, and that black cloud following you around that had, by now, begun turning blue.




*u can call me ph!*