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Oct 31, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 12: Sons and Daughters of the Dark Morning Star

"Gods suppressed become devils, and often it is these devils whom we first encounter when we turn inward".
   Joseph Campbell


            At some point on Monday afternoon, not only had I become totally oblivious to the concept of time, but  also to that of space. My mind no longer bothered creating even the most absurd  explanation of how I got from one place to another, from one state to another, and soon, from one life or death situation to another. If I could not remember specific moments so clearly over a year later, I would have thought it was just a nightmare. I have found it unfortunate that even the best of dreams fade with every passing moment after waking, while the worst of waking nightmares and hallucinations can be remembered as if they really happened.

           Physically, I can only guess and hope that I was in my room. Mentally, and without explanation, I found myself in  Philadelphia. I was sitting in my aunt's house, even though she had not lived there since I was a child. I sat on the sofa while she spoke to my mother about my father's death. I was beginning to sweat and could feel my body starting to rapidly detox. My cousin looked at me in a way that indicated he knew exactly what was happening to me. "Yo, Jim, let's go get a beer around the corner", he suggested and stood up. I told him that I thought we were getting ready to leave. "Just 15 minutes, let's go", he says. I agreed to go for one beer. Maybe it would help take the edge off.

            We took the elevator in their living room down to the lobby.When we got outside, their were about 8 girls in short skirts and high heels smoking and conversing with each other. They were obviously escorts. I wouldn't go so far as to say they were classy prostitutes, but they didn't look like the hookers that stood on street corners in bad parts of town or even the French one with a light mustache who approached me in a Vegas casino a few years back. None of them looked like Pretty Woman or anything, but some were hot in a dirty "I would pay her for sex if I didn't know that I'd feel ashamed of myself about 20 seconds after I was done" kind of way. 3 of them ran up to my cousin and started bitching about hooker, I mean, escort drama. He immediately told them to shut the fuck up. They did. He said he already knew about whatever they were so worked up over and that it was going to be taken care of. There was a steady stream of girls coming and going from the lobby. Some were getting dropped off by their driver. Others were exiting the lobby area and saying good night as if they were leaving after a day at the office. I stood there trying to act like this was nothing out of the ordinary. Once the girls stepped away, even though I knew what was going on, I asked my cousin what he had going here. He said that he was a driver amongst other things. I indicated that I understood and that I had been around the block a few times myself, never this particular block, but I still knew a hooker when I saw one, or at least after they offered to have sex with me in exchange for money. He seemed to be glad he didn't have to try to explain it to me in terms like "manager" or "dates" or in any way that avoided saying,"I am a pimp and these women are prostitutes".

           A police car came and pulled up. The officer in street clothes seemed to step out of the car before it had even come to a stop. He acknowledged me with a look that indicated he would get with me in a minute. The escorts who had been bitching ran up to him and started their shit again. He also immediately told them to shut the fuck up, and again, they did. Then he told the one to tell him what the problem was. I don't remember what she said, but it was in a fashion typical of your stereotypical movie prostitute. This made sense because that is pretty much the extent of my knowledge in the way of the hooker. Since whatever she was pissed off about was all a creation of my mind, and I have never cared to fathom the inner workings of a whore, it is safe to say that this problem I had created in her mind had something to do with either a john who got violent or ripped her off. Once she stopped her hysterics, he said he would take care of it and reached into his front pocket and handed them each a vial of cocaine. They both immediately tap the coke out of the vial into their Wolverine claw like pinky finger nails and snorted as if they were being timed with a stopwatch. He then asked if they were good, as though it was not written all over their make-up covered hooker faces. Whatever was bothering them so much a few minutes ago, they were clearly over it. It was no longer their problem. It was going to be handled and they knew it. Witnessing this display of codependency and the general nature of  interactions between this group of men and women, I thought to myself how truly absurd it was that I had ever even once been referred to as a "pimp", either by myself or by a friend. I almost found a little comfort in the fact that I was not wearing my belt that said "PIMP" on the buckle. It all of a sudden seemed clear there was as much of a chance of an actual pimp wearing a belt that said "pimp", as there was of an actual "prostitute" wearing a top hat that indicated her profession. Even if I had worn it for what would have turned out to be the last time, neither of these true pimps or their working girls would have been fooled. There was no hiding that I was as out of my element as one of the 2 coke head hookers would be at Calvary Chapel's 10AM Sunday service. This corrupt cop/pimp/protector/enforcer/drug dealer turned his attention towards me. I tried to act like this pimp game was nothing new to me as he approached. He looked at me with obvious disappointment as he shook his head and said,"Jimmy, I'm sorry about your dad". I reached out and gave him one of those handshakes guys do that turns into the kind of hug where you don't have to wrap both arms around another man, even if  is your cousin that you've known your entire life. I said,"Thanks, man."

           I had not seen either of my cousins in several years. Both were a few years older than me. They both grew up in Philadelphia. Neither of them would go looking for a fistfight, but they would have never considered walking away from one, and it always sounded to me like they may have even enjoyed it. Even when we were kids, it was pretty evident that they were about as impressed by their 10 year old cousin's  Black Belt as they were with his beloved Michael Jackson jacket(s).  Whether it was on purpose or not, their street smarts and general attitudes always served to remind their cousin in the suburbs of what a pussy he really was and how neither "that karate shit" nor a Black Belt would mean anything in a street fight. I really couldn't argue with them, not due to lack of debating skills but because either one of them would have individually probably liked to prove their theory, so there was no telling what kind of damage they could inflict as a tag team. If I had even joked that my Black Belt meant I could beat them in a fight, the fact that we share the same last name would not have prevented a beat down for the ages. Only one of our moms stepping in could have saved me from certain death at the hands of my cousins who I always loved, and since this beating never went down, I still do.

           Somehow, these 2 maniacs grew up without killing me or anyone else, as far as I know (I moved to Florida when I was 11 so I got lucky, can't be sure about anyone else). My older cousin would become a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and serve 2 tours in Iraq, where he also developed an operations program used to train Iraqi Military and Police Officers. Besides being a bad ass soldier, he is also a highly decorated Philadelphia Police Captain. He has received so many Police, Civilian, and Military awards and citations that I would never use his name in association with these crimes, even if they only took place in the delusional mind of someone suffering severe psychosis. The corruption, drugs, violence, and prostitution that occurred in my hallucinations on this day  had absolutely nothing to do with my cousin and everything to do with me watching all 7 seasons of The Shield in a row a week earlier. Since I was broke and had no cable, I would go to the public library and take out entire seasons of TV shows, and since I could not sleep, I would usually watch one DVD after another until the season was over. In this particular situation, I watched 88 episodes of The Shield in a row. That works out to 3 days straight. I guess it made an impression, because as a result, the cousin of my delusions made Vic Mackey look like one of the Super Troopers.  
           For some unknown reason, he decided to take me with him to handle whatever problem the hookers were having. We walked around the corner and got buzzed into a first floor apartment. Inside, we were greeted by an overweight black pimp/drug dealer, two of his thugs, and the most obnoxious ghetto ass prostitute ever, who was no doubt pimp daddy's bottom bitch. She was definitely not one of those classy whores that worked for my cousins. This one I could have definitely seen working the street corner at Hell and Damnation, which is right around the corner from Why The Fuck Did My Cousin Bring Me Here Boulevard. I'm pretty sure she was the black actress who was type-cast as the prostitute who berated Colin Farrel in Phone Booth and would later verbally abuse Terence Howard in Hustle and Flow until he kicked the bitch out... along with her baby. Not a very pleasant scene, but neither was this. The place that this knock off Gucci Crew occupied wasn't really even an apartment. It was nothing more than a very small living room. Not even 1 bedroom in case you wanted to spoon a 20 dollar whore. No bathroom for shooting heroin in privacy. No bathroom meant no toilet to flush drugs down if the po po were closing in and no sink for brushing after every meal. No shower or running water meant nowhere for a hooker to wash her vagina in between johns. Lack of a closet meant no proper place for storing drugs or the dead bodies of rival dealers, not to mention out of town white guys who had no business being there. There wasn't even a kitchen for cooking crack or Thanksgiving dinner in. Either they were minimalists with no concern for hygiene, or this room was no more than a one stop spot for drugs and whores. I would have have called it a den of iniquity if there was any place to indulge in one's chosen iniquity, and if I knew what exactly an iniquity was. I think it either has something to do with immorality or the the market value of a property versus any claims held against it.

            I decided to skip my usual routine of introducing myself and shaking hands while repeating each person's name back to them as my own way of not immediately forgetting it. I stood there in silence while admitting to myself that the more appropriate place for me right now was back at the kitchen table drinking coffee with my mommy, aunt, grandmom, and pretty much any family members who were not men.

            I'm not going to make up some bullshit dialogue since I don't remember exactly what was said. Again, since this was all created by my own mind, it had be the kind of banter typical of any movie that had scenes of great tension between dealers/pimps and dirty cops who were arguing about drugs, prostitution, and how the cops were being cheated out of the agreed upon profits from both.  It was obvious that my cousin had never heard about the concepts of fear or death. I, on the other hand, was quite familiar with both. By the end of the night, I would be the Stephen Hawking of fear and could only hope that I would not also find myself confined to a wheel chair with no ability to speak. Every time the pimp/dealer spoke, I tried not to tremble in fear while thinking,"I can't believe he's threatening a cop like this. Does he not realize this guy would not think twice about killing him?". Every time my cousin spoke, I tried not to piss my unLucky jeans in fear while thinking,"I can't believe he's threatening a drug dealer like this. Does he not realize this guy would not think twice about killing him...and then me?" Although we had just met, I didn't get the feeling that this dealer/pimp seemed the type to follow up my witnessing of the 187 of both a police officer and family member by telling me how he was so sorry that things just got so out of hand. Even if I did  not demand from him this much deserved apology, I still didn't think  he would just tell one of his thugs to drive me home and to take a few dollars out of my dead cousin's wallet so we could stop at Rita's Water Ice, where we would discuss existentialism and then promise to find and friend each other on FaceBook.

           Things just got worse as soon as the 2 dollar whore  threw in her 2 cents. Her yelling made a tense situation even worse. My cousin yelled back at her to shut the fuck up, which  was beginning to seem a pretty common request in just about every pimp-whore verbal exchange. Then she turned her verbal attack on me. She wanted to know what I was even doing there? Funny, I was wondering the same thing. She was yelling about me being nervous and how "this little bitch" did not belong there. I couldn't have agreed more. This whore was starting to make sense. My cousin said that I was family and to back the fuck up off me. Family was obviously not a value of hers because this emasculating verbal assault continued until I couldn't take it anymore. The time had come to try my trembling hand at pimp speak. "SHUT THE FUCK UP!", I yelled at her. My cousin must have been so proud of me. She gave me one of those "Oh hell no" looks, and then I immediately told her how sorry I was. My cousin must have been so ashamed of me. I couldn't even think straight anymore. I somehow stopped myself from breaking into tears and crying about how I shouldn't be there and that I just wanted to go home to my mommy. She thought I was wearing a wire so she demanded I raise my shirt. Her pimp thought that was a good idea. Thank God I didn't wear that stupid "Pimp" belt. I wanted my cousin to step in, but I think he was still in shock at my disgraceful apology, so he just watched like everyone else. Like Tupac, it was "all eyes on me". I lifted my shirt above my chest, exposing my vulnerability along with my fat belly. If I could have found any trace of comfort in that moment, it would have been that, unlike Tupac, I never got "THUG LIFE" tattooed across my stomach, as I had once considered after several games of dominoes that included too many Dutch Masters blunts and 40's of St. Ides. But just like the slain rapper, I too would probably be dead  soon. After it was clear I was not wired, I pulled my shirt down and just wanted to get out of there. This whore would still not let up about my presence, as if I wanted to be there. My cousin told her pimp to set her straight and that I was cool. I was never so uncool in my life and this bitch knew it. She said something like "if you so cool. why you shaking like a little bitch?" For some unknown reason, I blurted out, "I'm from Florida". A year later, I still don't know what kind of response I was expecting from that kind of quick thinking. Like she was going to all of a sudden smile and say," Really? You never told me you were from Florida. I love Florida. What part? My sister happens to be a whore in Miami". Unfortunately, we shared no common ground in regards to the Sunshine State, a place I would probably never see again. Instead of breaking into uncontrollable laughter, she pretended that my comment meant something to her and calmly said, "Oh, you from Florida". She looked at her pimp and his thugs and said,"He from Florida", as if they were going to tell me all about the time they took a week off from pimping, whoring, dealing, robbing, and killing to visit the Magic Kingdom. No such luck. It seemed that none of them had any love for Mickey, Florida, or my cracker ass. They were probably impressed to see the ease at which she was able to turn the tables on her usual role in the pimp-whore dynamic. She was definitely big pimpin' me. She was enjoying having the upper pimp-hand in this role reversal so much that she wanted to play new roles, which unfortunately, would not be a simple switch of our current ones. She was understandably not interested in going back to the role of whore, the same one she had most likely been playing ever since she dropped out of med school. Before she had become disillusioned by selling her whore ass for a $40 spot and sucking off strangers for a $20, even she must have had a dream that did not include gargling a gallon of mouthwash on a daily basis. I could only assume that her ridiculous and unattainable childwhore dream must have been something in the medical field because it seemed that we were about to explore the dynamics of a doctor-patient relationship. That would explain why she pulled out a hypodermic needle. Once again she would play the dominant role, this time of doctor. Unless she had something more sinister in her dirty hooker mind, I would reprise my role as the submissive. I'd be the frightened patient with a phobia of needles, more specifically, a phobia of being stuck with a dirty ass HIV infected needle in the hands of the same drug addicted whore who infected it in the first place and then saw no reason to not share it with every other junkie in Philly.

           She said,"So you from Florida", even though I thought that I had already made that clear. Since that is what I said last time I spoke, I was afraid of what may come out of my mouth if I opened it again. At least being at a loss of words prevented me from warning these criminals that I had my Black Belt in karate...that I got back in 1985. My Black Belt would have made them laugh harder than my Pimp belt. Both were equally indicative of the person standing in front of them.

           The Whore of Babylon was now holding her contaminated needle in a most unprofessional manner, very much not like the manner in which the nurse had administered my last flu shot. It was more in the kind of way a woman might wield a kitchen knife when catching her husband of 20 years screwing her prettier sister, the same sister who had stolen or just slept with every boyfriend she ever had. Maybe it was the unconventional style that the needle was being aimed at my jugular, but it was becoming pretty clear that this imaginary med school dropout turned filthy Philly whore never had any ambitions that would not require needles or knee pads. It was also evident that this whole doctor-patient role playing thing was just something I would only think of a year later when I was recalling and writing about this awful hallucination that seemed horrifyingly real at the time and in no way called for the use of witty puns or clever analogies. Why I was not hallucinating that I was People Magazine's 2009 Sexiest Man Alive hanging out at the Playboy Mansion the day a cure for every STD ever was announced to the public, I will never know. Why my psyche was putting me in these awful situations and what that says about me, I don't want to know.

Oct 27, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 11: The Impenetratable Darkness

" But there is a pitch of unhappiness so great that the goods of nature may be entirely forgotten, and all sentiment of their existence vanish from the mental field. For this extremity of pessimism to be reached, something more is needed than observation of life and reflection upon death. The individual must in his own person become the prey of a pathological melancholy. As the healthy-minded enthusiast succeeds in ignoring evil's very existence, so the subject of melancholy is forced in spite of himself to ignore that of all good whatever: for him it may no longer have the least reality".
William James

           To say that Sunday had been a long and emotionally draining day would be like admitting that Casey Anthony could have been a better mom. Although I was not finger painting the elevator walls with feces, I was still looney tunes enough to not realize that I was not really stuck in an elevator but was ensnared in a trap set by my own mind. In what had become my own little world, it felt like I was sitting on that elevator floor studying non-existent fine art for hours, but in a distant place where I once lived called "reality", it was probably only a few minutes. I thought that the fire department had finally arrived and were on the other side of the elevator door letting us know that we would be out soon. Once they pried the doors open, it was clear that we were stuck between floors. The only escape route was a gap between the roof of the elevator and the floor of the level above. It was barely big enough to squeeze my body through. With the help of the firemen pulling and me boosting them, the skinny hippie couple barely squeezed through. Even though I had not eaten in a week, I was still well over 200 pounds. This would be a tight squeeze. The firemen said if I did not hurry, the gap would close and I would be stuck there all night. I still thought I was sane, so I was imagining that I would lose my mind stuck there any longer with nothing but my morbid thoughts. I reached to the outstretched hands of the firemen and they began pulling me up and through the gap until I got stuck at my waist. An overwhelming panic struck me as soon as I had the terrifying vision of the unimaginable pain and gruesome death that would befall me if the elevator started back up and suddenly began to descend. At that point, possibly due to the fear, I blacked out, having no memory of the rest of this day.

           Outside of my own delusions, this situation was about as dangerous as getting stuck on an escalator in a Super Target. It was questionable if I had even been in the elevator at all when I thought this BackDraft like scene that was not even cutting room floor worthy was playing itself out.  All I know of what really happened is what I would be told later by my roommate. He said he was waiting for the elevator and when the doors opened with no assistance from the fire department, I was sitting in the elevator staring at the floor.

           As crazy as this weekend had been, I never once thought anything was out of the ordinary. Obviously the death of my dad was not an everyday occurrence, but the details seemed reasonable enough that I never thought,"Hey, maybe this isn't really happening. Maybe I'm just experiencing one of  those psychotic episodes just like what happened to not even one person I have ever met". The emotions brought on by my father's death earlier in the day just fueled the fire of my deterioration. My mind had turned on itself and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I had lost control over that which separates man from beast. Perhaps the scariest part was that whatever was happening could not be blamed on drug use. There were no drugs in my system for the first time in nearly 18 years. It would be my own mind that was going to expose  me to fears and places that even my worst acid trip never wanted any part of revealing. I was getting closer to making a clean break from any notions of the spatial or temporal dimensions  that are paramount not only to our understanding of the world, but also to our survival in it. The whole concept of time was becoming non-existent. I could no longer differentiate between several hours and a few minutes. I was not able to fathom the implausibilities of the imagined events of the last 3 days. The extreme grief I experienced that day  would only make things worse. Even though the grief stemmed from hallucinations, the pain was still real. I didn't know the difference. My mind had created it's own reality and anyone who may have been witness to this was not making any attempt to reach me. I could not help myself. My misery made me all too willing to relinquish control of my consciousness. I was no longer responsible for my actions.

           Even though I was devastated by my father's death that afternoon, after some time on the elevator I was no longer concerned with questions of life or death or anything beyond the present moment I found myself in, real or imagined. I had no contemplations on the past or future. If I had a soul, I lost it along with my mind, as if separating the 2 was even possible. I was so far from reality that I couldn't make sense of things like hours or miles, let alone something that exists beyond time and space. Something else had taken over control of my mind and it wanted nothing to do with anything as meaningless as souls or redemption, Heaven or Hell. I do not know what I believe in regards to ideas of spirituality or faith. I am only confident that if humans do have an eternal soul or spirit, it is nothing more than the mind continuing on after the body no longer can. The only thing that I can admit any faith in is the fact that we as humans are incapable of being able to comprehend that which transcends time and space, the very things that give some semblance of structure to how we relate to the universe and everything in it. If you believe in souls or Heaven or Hell, is it possible the soul could exist anywhere besides the same place that controls the origins of thoughts that become decisions and result in acts? There is nothing beyond these thoughts and actions to be factored into any kind of cosmic equation that distinguishes a good soul from an evil one. It would be this distinction that would determine where that soul would spend eternity.

           A lost soul was the term my mother reserved for only the most hopeless and desperate cases of those she saw as having little or no chance of finding any kind of peace in their life. The type of person who used words like futility and redemption interchangeably. I had become a person that even someone like my mother could give up on after realizing they had already given up on themselves. I was exactly the thing that made her saddest, even when it was in regards to another mother's son. I was one of those lost souls. During the depths of my depression and addiction, I could admit to myself that if I had a soul, I was losing a part of it everyday, but at least that was evidence that I still had a soul to lose. Whether or not you believe in souls or some form of an afterlife is inconsequential. Even if someone's mind denies any existence of Heaven or Hell, there is no denying that it is that same mind that can turn the here and now into the equivalent of either.

"All the gods, all the heavens,
  all the hells, are within you"
  Joseph Campbell

Oct 20, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 10: Songs That Went Unsung

I could always live in my art,
but never in my life.
Autumn Sonata


           I sat on the floor of the elevator, looking at images of my parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that were in the floor tiles. They were mostly from family gatherings from when I was a small child. Others were from before I was even born. I realized when I looked at these that my father had been a great artist when he was younger. The images spanned several years, but stopped around the time that I was just a few years old. It became clear to me that he had sacrificed his artistic ambitions for the sake of his family. Although he never spoke of it, I knew now that he once had a fire inside to create that, no matter how much money he made, would never be satisfied. This kind of fire never completely goes out. It continues to flicker, even if it is so deep in some dark cave that you would never know it even existed if you had not discovered it only after getting lost. Even if this bonfire of inspiration can not be seen, it still burns until the last ember dies out along with the man.

         I knew in that moment that this is where I got my desire and my need to write. I could only hope to one day create something that I could be proud of. Fiction or non-fiction, even if it was just a song or a short story, I just wanted to write one thing that held some meaning to someone besides myself. Something that may even have some kind of inherent value after my death. Something that I would be proud to let speak for me after I could no longer speak for myself. I started to wonder if this fire inside was the reason that I had made a habit of sabotaging my relationships with women. For me, there always seemed to come an uneasy complacency with being in love that seemed to rob me of all my ambition, as if I needed nothing else in the world besides the love of a beautiful girl. Maybe this caused the fire inside me to slowly burn into some form of misdirected resentment. Then again, it is very likely that I was once again doing nothing more than simply romanticizing my own character flaws, turning my lack of character into the subconscious actions of some kind of  "tortured soul". Perhaps I was just too selfish to put anything ahead of myself and my dreams, even though I was doing nothing to achieve them. It seemed more likely that I just accepted the fact that I was never going to do anything with my life. If I would have had even a moment of honesty, I would have been able to recognize that I was well on my way to living a life much worse than that of someone who failed to achieve their dreams. I would be wrought with the regret of knowing that I never even tried, of being nothing but a lazy coward. Maybe this is why I couldn't even think about having a wife or kids. Why subject anyone to the misery of living with this kind of person? Someone who at 21, could only think about how John Singleton had written and directed Boyz n the Hood at this age. The day before he turned 28, he could only think how his idol, Jim Morrison was already dead by his age. Someone who at 30, regretted all that he did not do in his 20's. Then at the age of 33, being able to safely say that Jesus Christ, no less than the most influential person in human history, had accomplished significantly more by this same age. This kind of madness could go on forever. There was no reason to build a family around this kind of man. The kind of man who never looked forward, only back in regret.

           I was truly touched looking at these fantastic works of art my father had created. Before this, it's exquisite detail had only touched the blind soles of men's shoes and had repeatedly been stabbed by ladies' unfeeling high heels. I wondered how he could have never spoken about his days as an artist. Most of all, I wondered how he never let his past dreams that never manifested interfere with his life, at least not visibly. Was it possible to let go of the images that would only exist in his mind, the drawings that would never come to life on paper, like some great song that would go unsung only to die with the singer. Maybe it was something that burned within him from time to time, but he was able to extinguish that fire with the love he had for his family. He was another in a long line of those whose art would only be appreciated after their death, like some failed writer who kills himself only to have his diary reveal to everyone but himself that he was a creative genius.

           It became clear to me on that elevator floor where I got my creative ambitions from. I began to wonder where his came from. I wondered if his father, my grandfather, had these kind of dreams when he was a young man. I wondered what kind of dreams he must have had and what kind of person he once dreamed of being. It kind of made sense that this man, who as a child I loved as much as any grandson could even though he called me "Danny" instead of Jimmy, had the same demons of regret that I was haunted by. Maybe this was why he spent his life drowning himself in vodka. My father once told me that he never knew his dad drank until he saw him sober once. Besides fathering my dad and 2 uncles, I can only look at his as a wasted life. Before this enlightenment in an elevator, I always thought maybe his alcoholism was due to things he may have experienced while fighting the Nazis in North Africa during WWII. Perhaps it was rooted even deeper, back to when his own father was murdered when he was a child. My father did not drink alcohol. My mother knew that I was quite fond of it. She would warn me about alcoholism skipping a generation. Later, after my "episode", or perhaps "mini series" if you will, I would wonder if it was possible that, like alcoholism, perhaps mental illness could also skip a generation. I remembered a diary of his that I came across a few years earlier from before my dad was even born. Some of the writing was not possible to make any sense of. When I first found it, I read a passage and immediately thought,"Damn, Grandpop was fucking wasted when he wrote this".

"high class guy made sad stories. Why tell him sad stories? 
His mustache was on fire. I didn't want to spit in his face"
- 1947 diary of Daniel Patrick MacDonald

           After suffering my own delusions and hallucinations, and as a result coming face to face with my own demons, I couldn't help but think maybe I had inherited whatever form of insanity that had overtaken my mind from him. I was scared that in the end, my life would be just as sad and have as little meaning as his did. Then I realized that mine would mean even less. I would have no sons or grandchildren that could stand as the only justification for my sad existence. Maybe this was a good thing. Maybe no life at all was better than the kind I felt I too may be destined to live. Maybe my demons were his demons. Maybe I was cursed. Maybe, like my grandfather before me, I was doomed.

Brandy, Jimmy, GrandPop

I don't sing because I'm happy; I'm happy because I sing.
                     William James

Oct 17, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 9: Guiding Fictions

When you are insane, you are busy being insane - all the time...when I was crazy, that was all I was.
 Sylvia Plath


           I snapped out of my morbid mindset once I felt it start to drizzle. I was still waiting for my friends to finish running cable to the big screen they had set up by the pool. Besides, Jeff, I hadn't seen any of them since their grand gesture atop the palm trees. I started to think that the whole "let's set up a big screen tv by the pool so we can watch football while not leaving Jim alone in his hour of need" idea was supposed to be a surprise. Because of the wall between the grilling area and the pool, I could not see what kind of progress they were making. I didn't go over to check because I wanted to act surprised. Once I started noticing the rain drops, I figured it was time to see what was going on. I'm no electrician, but I think that way back when I lived in the real world, I remembered hearing something about the combination of water and electricity not being a good one. I walked through the gate to see what they were going to do now that it was starting to rain. It was already a rough day to say the least, so the last thing I wanted to do was see any of my friends get electrocuted and then have to start piling their bodies in the back of the Comcast van alongside my dad. Besides the horror of watching a friend fry and knowing that their family would be feeling the way I was, I also wouldn't want Bill to think I was taking advantage of him and his work van turned hearse. Bill was definitely a sketchy dude, but except for not sharing his joint with me, he was being a pretty stand up guy for once in his life. That's why I decided to write off the 50 bucks he still owed me for a bag of weed that I fronted him 2 years ago. On any other day, Bill was the type of guy who would steal your drugs and then pretend to help you look for them, so I wasn't trying to push his good will.

           I walked into the pool area expecting to ruin my surprise. The only surprise was that I was the only person there. It was almost like they were never there and that they didn't even try setting up a big screen. I thought it was odd, but I just shrugged and walked away. I just figured they realized it was going to rain. Instead of walking it out through the pool gate, they must have just passed the big screen television over the 8 foot wall, then just ninja'd over it themselves. I guess that they thought that I would find it disheartening to see them carry the tv out in defeat. Since we both knew they wouldn't be staying without being able to watch football, these same guys who a few hours earlier climbed to the tops of 40 foot palm trees to show their respect must have just decided to leave without bothering to even say good bye. Made sense to me.

           I hadn't eaten in almost a  week so I figured maybe some food would not be a bad idea, so I headed up to my apartment where I assumed everyone must be. Earlier my mom and my Aunt Jeannie were making food and I saw a steady stream of neighbors bringing food over for me, so I figured there was gonna be a nice buffet set up. I walked into my apartment  to find...nothing. None of my family was there. I looked in the fridge that I expected to be stocked like the day after Thanksgiving, but it was just as empty as it was earlier. I came up expecting a food spread that would make Sweet Tomatoes look like Ruby Tuesday's salad bar, instead my only option was a barbecue sauce sandwich minus the bread. As much as I love this particular condiment, I decided against it. I could only hope that they had brought the food down to the intracoastal  area where there were picnic tables and grills next to the boat docks. The rain had stopped so I grabbed my ipod player and headed down for a little coastal social.

           I stepped outside to see that nobody was there. I figured we had got our signals crossed so I headed back to the pool area. They weren't there either. They must have walked behind the building while I was walking in front, so I went back to the intracoastal area. The only people there were 2 couples drinking wine and hanging out on the back of their boat. I walked over to the docks and realized that my friend, Mark, was there with two blondes I had never seen before. They were about 4 boat slips away from the people on the boat. The people on the boat were really there. Mark and these 2 girls were not. The 2 imaginary girls were standing on the dock and Mark was down in the water in the open boat full scuba gear. The girls were just standing there watching him. I asked the Bopsy Twins what was going on. They ignored me. I just thought they must be shy. So I turned my attention to Scuba Steve. "Mark, what the hell are you doing?" He just stared at me. In reality, Mark is pretty much one of my favorite people and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, but today he was pissing me off. I thought maybe he was still mad about me calling him a  fucking asshole earlier when he wouldn't let me in my apartment. The water was up to the bottom of his diving mask, so he was looking at me much like an alligator who is submerged up to it's eyes. I sat on a bench on the dock and turned on my IPOD. I was listening to a Grateful Dead mix. I sat there for a few minutes. "What's up, dude?" I yell over the music. He just continues staring."Okay", I say. I pose a question to both him and the girls, whoever will answer me. "What's with everybody today?" The silent treatment. I look over both shoulders and ask, "Am I like invisible or something?", not realizing that they are the ones invisible to everyone except me. I thought maybe Mark was decompressing to avoid the bends, even though I have no idea what that means. After a few minutes, I was tired of sitting there being ignored. I yell back to Mark, "Dude, are you getting out anytime soon or what?" Nothing. I heard some woman over on the boat yell, "Excuse me". She had no doubt been watching me talk to my imaginary friends. The woman was Dede Lind.

           Let me tell you about Dede. She had lived in my neighborhood for years. I had only spoken to her once a few years ago. She was living with Bill when I dropped him off the weed he never paid me for. The only reason I knew anything about this leather skinned lady was because she had been a Playboy Playmate. You couldn't help but notice her at the beach because she always wore a thong. Usually this is something that I would enjoy to pretend not to stare at. What guy would not want to look at the body of a thong wearing former Playmate of the Month...unless that month was August...of 1967. The fact that she received more fan letters from soldiers than any other playmate during the Vietnam War meant nothing to me. As much as most guys would like to add a playmate to their resume, I had no reservations about taking a pass on those bragging rights in this case. My roommate wanted to screw her, but since she peaked the same year that The Doors did, I had no interest in letting her "touch me" or "light my fire". Even before painkillers pulled an Oceans 11 on my sex drive, I wanted no part of some lady walking around in a thong with the same reckless abandon she displayed during the Summer of Love. It was clear by the way she would bend over without putting any effort into bending her knee's, she was completely oblivious to the fact that like peace, love-ins, and Twiggy, her time had long passed. It was our neighborhood's private beach. It was strictly for drinking beer and tossing bocce balls. There was no room for any sort of Beach Blanket Bingo bullshit for this Baby Boomer.

            So this lady who was a centerfold before the Nixon Administration, yells over again while I'm trying to turn down my music. "Excuse me!", she says as if she wants to bust my balls about something. I answer, "Yes?".  She just turns her back and starts talking to to her friends, probably about something exciting that happened to her during her hay day  when gas was 35 cents a gallon. Tired of being ignored, I say in my outdoor voice," Did you want to ask me something or do you just want me to turn the music down?" Nobody on the boat responds. She just keeps telling them how groovy it was watching the moon landing with Hugh Hefner. I repeat in a louder, more dickish voice,"Did you have something you want to say to me?" as if they were the ones with the problem. I realize now that she was basically saying," Excuse me! Do you have any idea that you are talking to yourself?" I can only imagine what they were saying to each other, but since they didn't respond to me, I turned my music back up, louder. I'm usually not a belligerent person, but looking back and realizing how crazy I was, I had absolutely no fear of her 2 male friends. I don't think they felt the same way since they wouldn't even look over at me. Good thing for them because I have no doubt that whatever was building up inside me would have been unleashed on them in a brutal way. Even if I had went all the way, I would have probably got off on temporary insanity. A few days later, things would get very violent on the back of their boat. Luckily, they would not be there at the time. In fact, I would be the only person on the boat when this game of death was going down.

            Mark and the girls had suddenly vanished so I sat there for a few more minutes. I thought I saw a guy I used to work with parked by the dock. I walked down the dock past the people on the boat and yelled, "Yo, Jason, what's up?" When I got to the SUV, he wouldn't roll his window down. I thought he was just messing with me, so I laughed and knocked a few more times. "Come on, man, roll down the window." After a few minutes of this, I gave up and walked away. So the people on the boat were watching me knocking on the window of one of my neighbor's SUV's and talking to the driver who was not there. I know this because they told my roommate they were watching me the whole time.

            I was tired of being treated like Bruce Willis in The 6th Sense by everybody, or nobody depending how you looked at it. I figured it was time to head up to my apartment. Maybe I would take those pills my neighbor gave me since it was getting dark and I hadn't even consumed one beer. Once I was in the lobby, I stepped on to the elevator, followed by a couple in their 20's. I couldn't tell if they were hippies or just really poor. These broke ass Beatniks were also figments of my imagination. On the way up, the elevator stopped between floors. We were stuck. After incessantly pushing the alarm button for a few minutes, I gave up and took a seat. I did everything I could to not think of the word "claustrophobia". The food stamp loving flower children also sat down once they realized we may be there for a while. I thought that maybe some music would relax me and break the uncomfortable silence, so I turned on my IPOD player. I felt it was a safe assumption that these 2 destitute drop outs wouldn't mind my Grateful Dead mix. As soon as Ramble On Rose began, they nodded their approval, as if I needed it.

            I sat there, zoning out on the elevator floor. It was a faded yellow color with a texture like that of a rock. I noticed that there were some kind of images in the floor. They looked like amazingly detailed pencil drawings, but had actually been carved into the tiles. I wondered why I had never taken the time to study the floor instead of only standing on it. It made me wonder how many things that we never give any thought to that were actually someone's creation, someone's art. It made me sad that I was probably the only person who ever noticed this person's work, so I wanted to appreciate the obvious time and talent it must have taken to do something like this. Looking closer, I could see that the images were all of people. I became amazed as I looked closer at the faces of these people. After nearly 10 years of standing on that elevator floor, I was shocked to finally realize that at some time in the past, images of my family had been carved into it, and somehow, I never even knew it. At the same time, after nearly 35 years of knowing my father, I was shocked to finally realize that at some time in the past, he had been this great artist...and that somehow, I never even knew him.


Oct 15, 2011

READER REVIEWS: Chapters 1-8

Positive Feedback and Constructive Criticism

 Let me start off by saying there is seriously something wrong with you. - Glenn                             
 Some day you will be a famous writer. - Kelly
Hey, in your first blog you say sleeping like "rumplestiltskin". I think you mean "Rip Van Winkle. - Matt

I'm not sure if I should feel guilty that I'm enjoying reading about your downward spiral. -Andrea

I get so much pleasure reading about your pain. - Jen

Just want to say sorry for giving you my left over pain Meds - Anonymous

At first I was like, " whoa man", but it's like a book you can't put down. It's frickin phenomenal, seriously. Captivating, sad, hilarious, and moving stuff! - JJ

Your words move me. I laughed with your wit, but I was so sad with all the shit you went through. Your courage for writing this, you deserve a happy ending and I should be buying your new york times best seller. You are amazing. - C.

I read it. It was nonsense. - Joe M.

While your writing is cathartic to you. You might actually help some people out of a tough situation too. - Ali

I am so happy you are writing - about real life... its therapeutic ...and inspirational.Thank you. - Chloe

Well, I read it. You definitely have some father-son issues. -Joe (my therapist)

I am enjoying it. Def good therapy. Makes me forget about my problems for a minute. -Beth

WOW. Very brave. What great writing. -Sandi

So brave - Christin

introspection w/o shame...that takes balls... - James

Very ballsy! - Taryn

Someday there will be a bronze statue of you.
This definitely takes courage to write about. I dig it!!!!!! Big cajones! - Michelle

Some amazing stuff -you are lucky to be alive. You know you help people when you open up like that. It takes incredible courage. - Michael

I don't know what to say...other than impressive! The honesty is more than most could even consider doing. I'm hooked! -January T.

Pretty freaking good man. I don't know if I'd be that honest on a public forum though... - Dave

I've started reading it. I am intrigued but sleepy. - Beth

I am very impressed. Love the style - very gripping and has me thinking... is that really true? Did that really happen to him? - Lori

Reading it just now floored me. I get lost on the psychoactive Criss Angel stuff - but this one about the feds and everything - heavy and captivating - Marsh

You made me cry (and laugh) -Susanna

Made me laugh harder than some-e-cards and stimulated my senses more than a shirtless Ryan Gosling. Well done, JMac! Bravo!!!!! - Karen W.

I'm kind of addicted. You are effin hillarious. - Kristen

Very, very funny. Funerals and pedophilia though? I think if you're going to make it more than a five minute read - you should have (clearer) point. come up with a format. - Marshall C.

You don't seem to mind sentence fragments. Perhaps it's just punctuation that needs a slight shift or edit. Or... OR... perhaps I'm just OCD. - Kate

Well, first let me applaud your new choice of photo. I like it better. And I love the black and white pic at the very top with the brick background. I think that's frickin' perfect. Now, as for the writing... I liked the first post, but honestly felt that it rambled a bit and wasn't quite witty enough to warrant a blog following. - Lori

I will follow you and all your craziness.... :) - Brenda

Can't wait for more bro. Amazing stuff!Brother, I can't believe the life you were living man. - Alex

WOW... That one was intense. I am glad I'm not the only one waiting impatiently for the next entry - Jennifer

Stop blogging and go to bed. You have to get up in the morning. - Mom

I think 'followin' your heart, regardless of the outcome, can't be wrong. Uh, unless your heart tells you to kill someone...that's another story...where you need a new heart.  -Jeff

Jeff won't leave me alone about reading your blog!!! he's driving me crazy. every day he asks if i have read it yet. guess i should start now....-Kimmy

You have a blog now? About what? - Lyssa A.

Did you say twins? -Chuck


I'll never do drugs again.     - Charlie Sheen

What's with all the crying?

Just because it happened to you, doesn't make it interesting, dick head!

You made me laugh. You made me cry. You made me want to blow my fucking head off!

 Rip Van Winkle was the one who slept for all those years, not Rumplestiltskin. Dumb ass.

I wanted to see what all the lack of hype was about. Now I understand.

 Addiction and mental illness. Hilarious.

I only laughed during the times when he cried, which was often. What a little bitch.

Let me save you alot of time. He's depressed, he cries, he's an addict, he cries some more, he starts hallucinating, so then he...well, you get the picture. Basically he's a big pussy. The end.

Great job of cock  blogging yourself. Hope the whole exposing your soul thing was worth never getting laid again.

I felt like I was reading the autobiography of some child actor who peaked when he was 10.

With the length of  your blog entries, this thing better have a good ending, preferably one that includes your lobotomy.

 I feel sorry for his parents.         -Casey Anthony

 Both of my parents died when I was 8. I was a full on alcoholic by the age of 11 which resulted in my liver transplant at 13.  By 15 I was a heroin addict and had turned to prostitution in order to support my 7 year old son. I spent the next 18 years as a homeless junkie whore until I got clean, but do you see me blogging about it?  Poor baby, why don't you go cry about it? Oh, I forgot, you did. Over and over..

After reading this, I threw out every pill in my medicine cabinet, even  aspirin and vitamins.

Thank God this sick fuck didn't have a gun permit.

I couldn't help but cry sometimes. Not nearly as often as you cried, but sometimes.

I would usually never advocate suicide, but...

I'm hoping he dies in the end and they just hired a ghost writer to finish it.

Rumplefuckinstiltskin? LMFAO! Wow.

Did you say that you didn't get laid once in over a year?

PLEASE tell me you end up doing something dumb enough so you can tell us you're writing this from prison.

Seriously? Not once? In a year? As in 12 months? LOL!

After reading your story, I promised myself and God that I would never take any kind of painkiller ever again. Too bad I have to have 2 wisdom teeth pulled on Tuesday. Great timing. Thanks for the inspiration.

Belushi, Morrison, Joplin, Hendrix, that guy from Sublime. All dead . But this  no talent douchebag still walks the Earth? There is no God.

If you say you put a penis in your mouth for a percocet, I'm unsubscribing.

I'm just getting caught up with your blog. Really fascinating stuff. I admire your courage, but did I read that you didn't have sex in over a year? How could you not have sex in over a year, even by accident?

If this is all some drawn out ploy to show how you ended up getting clean and finding Jesus, I will find you, and I will crucify you.

I've been following your blog. I don't know if you remember me, I offered you half of a vicotin for a blow job, but it was really just a tic tac. Sorry about that :(

Oct 14, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 8: 4th and Forever

I'm more than just a little curious
How you're planning to go about
Making your amends to the dead
                    A Perfect Circle, The Noose


            I made my way over to the pool area, to join my friends. It was not so much a memorial for my father, since none of my friends really knew him, as it was a show of support for me... and an excuse to drink to excess. On the way over, I called my friend, Trevor, to invite him over. He would later tell me that after I told him that my dad died, I just went on and on about what a great time I had in Vegas. If he had shown up, either he would have recognized that I was completely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and would have found some way to have me brought back to reality, or he would have understandably been disturbed my delusional behavior and I would have lost a good friend. Trevor mentioned to my friend, Anuj, that I told him my father had died. Anuj knew that I was very close to my father, so he asked an ex girlfriend of mine if she had heard about this. She became concerned, not concerned enough to call or text or anything, but still concerned because her and my father had always got along very well. Whatever this insanity I was experiencing was, it was now something that I would not be able to act as if never happened.

           The first people I saw who were not really there were Josh and his girlfriend. I said, "What's up, dude? Thanks for coming over. It's been awhile." Although he was wearing sunglasses, it was obvious that he was looking right at me. He said nothing.  Though he would have had to have been deaf to not hear me, I asked, "What's going on, bro?" No response. I wasn't sure what his problem was, so I turned to his girlfriend, whom I had never met. I reached out my hand and smiled, "Hello, I'm Jim, it's nice to meet you". She also looked at me and ignored me. I looked at both of them. "What's up with you two? " No response. I pretended to be humored. "Am I missing something? What's with the silent treatment?" I was getting annoyed. Morrissey once sang, "That joke isn't funny anymore", but unlike the Smiths classic, this "joke", if you can call it that, was never funny. It was actually extremely irritating. I turned my hands up and ask,"What the fuck?"  I wasn't in the mood for their little Hank and Helen Keller routine, so out loud, I said to myself, "Wow, this is gonna be a lot of fun".

           I went and sat down at the head of a long patio table for six, expecting to hold court for the next several hours, hopefully with people who would respond when I spoke to them. I brought my IPOD player with me and put on some music. It was encased in a very hard plastic to make it waterproof so you can listen to it while you sing and masturbate in the shower. I had been carrying it with me everywhere because my IPOD, like my mind,  was not working correctly, and like my legs, could not run on it's own. After a while, I wondered where everyone was. I heard some noise on the other side of the wall where the pool was. I figured it was my friends setting up the big screen so they could watch football and keep score of their Fantasy teams. It was definitely a Fantasy Sunday for me too, but I wasn't counting touchdowns and turnovers. The only individual performance I should have been concerned with was my own.  It was 4th and forever to logic and rationality, and my only hope was an out of shape wide receiver, who had not played organized football since he was a freshman in high school and was now strung out and worst of all, caucasian. But on 4th and inches away from being institutionalized or imprisoned, I had my running back, who could only be compared to the Incredible Hulk on Adderall.

           Josh and his girlfriend had left. It didn't really matter because they weren't saying much. Since they had never met my dad, I guess it was nice that they stopped by, even if they didn't have anything to say to me. Oh well, I had other things to stress about. I sat there by myself, listening to my music, thinking about my dad. While I sat there obsessing over the past, one of my most routine activities, my neighbor who gave me the pills earlier walked by with her dog. She saw me sitting there by myself, so she walked up to the table and asked how I was doing. I don't remember what I said to her, but it must have been a lie because she didn't immediately turn and run, she sat down to talk. So there I was, talking to a real person. Good thing Josh and his girl already left because things would have got weird when I tried introducing them to my neighbor. I figure they would have ignored her too, then she would have probably got so offended that she would immediately call the cops. Somehow, we talked for over an hour, and either she wasn't asking the right questions, or I somehow avoided any bizarre answers. There's no way in hell that I didn't say anything bizarre so she must have popped some of her own meds that she had selfishly kept to herself. I told her that my friends were coming over. She said that was good because I shouldn't be alone. She didn't realize that whether anyone came over or not, I wouldn't know the difference and would still carry on a conversation anyway. I told her that my dad had been hit by a car while driving, somehow not mentioning the fact that the accident was down the street. Another topic that never came up was that my dad's body was nearing decomposition in the back of the Comcast work van out front of our apartment building. I went on and on to this lady whose name I didn't even know, until after awhile, she got all selfish and must have thought that I had some interest in hearing about what she went though when her mom passed away. I guess she was trying to relate to what I was going through, but this was about me...and my dad, I guess. Actually, she was very nice and I appreciated the time that she took to sit and wait with me until my friends got there. After an hour, I think she realized that nobody was coming and if she stayed any longer, she would end up Waiting For Godot with me there  for eternity. She said she was going to go watch the 2nd half of the Dolphins game and hoped that I would feel better. Neither of us realized that the Dolphins had played Thursday night, losing in a thriller to the Cowboys 27-25,  but hey, I wouldn't have wanted to listen to my depressing nonsense either.

           After she left, I was alone again with my thoughts, something that was undoubtedly a major factor in bringing on my complete mental breakdown. If the overwhelming stress and depression that I had when I was "sane" had driven me to madness, then topping that garbage heap of  thoughts with this could only push me to the edge of a place that you don't come back from the same person. If you do find a way of not getting yourself or someone else killed, and even if you avoid doing permanent damage to your body, your mind would never be the same. The days would be spent in some hospital, medicated  on so many atypical antipsychotics that you make a zombie's movements look like those of a PussyCat Doll.  You slobber like some St. Bernard who just got waterboarded, while you zone out on game shows that may as well be in Chinese since words and letters are no longer "your thing". This doesn't stop you from playing the occasional game of checkers against yourself even though you've never won, never mind that you sometimes try eating the black checker pieces because they remind you of something called "Orweo cookies" without the creamy middle. When family comes to visit, they mostly just talk to themselves because you don't have anything to say to these "strangers" who have pulled you away from your game of dominoes. Not dominoes that you play like a card game and keep track of points, the kind you play when you set them up just to watch them fall, and you were just about to break your personal record of 4 before these "strangers" interrupted with their funny talk. These "strangers"  visit you more for their own peace of mind than your benefit since you can't even remember what the orderly force fed you for lunch, even though it's all over your bib that hasn't been changed in a week. These "strangers" would take you out in public if they didn't feel they were dehumanizing you because of the necessity to keep you on a child leash like some toddler with a knack for always finding the closest pitbull. Every once in a while, you have flashes of someone else's life, someone who spent time with these "strangers". You see them laughing while opening dozens of  meticulously wrapped gold and red boxes that surround a Christmas tree considerably nicer than the one the orderlies put up in the rec room every year that is only surrounded by empty boxes. Sometimes you get the point of view of someone sitting in the backseat of a van while a considerably younger version of these "strangers" play I Spy and try to name all 50 states while driving down the highway. You even have the occasional look through the eyes of someone staring at a young woman who can't stop smiling back at them or resist repeatedly kissing their cheek and  then whispering that she loves them and will forever, and for a few precious seconds, a feeling in your chest makes it almost seem like you were this lucky guy who said that he loved her too and then kissed this girl who is even prettier than the woman on the game show with all the letters that you watch but don't understand. Even though you don't know what "love" is, hearing it and saying it, even in another person's memory, makes you feel different for a moment. You might even get the feeling of what it must be like to be allowed to drive a car when you look through this person's eyes to see that same girl sitting in the passenger seat of some convertible with it's top down as she laughs at the the futility of even attempting to keep her long hair from blowing all over.  You can look down and see her holding the driver's hand, only letting go so that he can shift gears, and then immediately taking it again. You might even catch a look at the driver himself, smiling in his rear view mirror. He looks familiar, someone you may have met, someone you may have been, someone you destroyed along with everything they ever had. And the girl, who knows? Hopefully you didn't destroy her along the way. The saddest part is that your mind is too fried to make any sense of this "other person's" memories. When you open your mouth and try to talk, it's nothing but jibberish so you can't even tell anyone about these memories of a past life, which the few visitors you get just assume you have forgotten anyway. Once again, you've gotten what you always thought would make you happy, an endless supply of pills.
           Sitting there alone, I felt my stomach turn with the notion that my dad would never see all the great things that I would now be determined to do after the realization that I too, would die one day, and that day was most likely gonna be Thursday at this rate of deterioration. There was no way that I was going to live to be his age the way I was living. Since I didn't realize that I had the life expectancy of a sitcom starring anyone from Seinfeld besides Jerry, I was actually able to think how he wouldn't be there to see me getting married. It was hard to imagine him never seeing my children, who would never know how great their grandfather was. I couldn't believe he would never be there for another  Christmas, his favorite day of the year because it gave him another excuse to spoil his wife and children, making it our favorite day of the year too. Things could never be the same.  I knew how awful I felt on all the Christmas and Thanksgivings we already did not spend together over the last decade. It was unbearable on those days that were supposed to be the best of the year, to know my father was spending it in prison. It was already unbearable on every other day, but these days were the worst. It brought me no comfort to hear my mom say, "Just think, 3 more Christmas' and your dad will be here. 2 more Christmas' and your dad will be home with us. Just think, This will be the last Christmas without your dad." She didn't bother counting down the holidays during the first 6 years.

            I should have tried to find something positive to distract me from my morbid thoughts of things my father would never see me do. There wasn't anything I could think of to find any comfort in. I should have told myself that at least he would miss out on seeing me in a much needed rehab if I didn't end up in prison first. If neither of those things happened soon, even though it would bring no comfort to my poor mother, at least he would be spared having to bury his first child who had little chance of having a stocking with his name on the chimney this year. If this miracle did happen, there was no way there would be an Easter basket filled with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that mom knew were his favorite. Knowing my mother, she would have still made a basket, only to lie it by a headstone that would read:

James William MacDonald, Jr. 
  Beloved Son and Brother
         A Wasted Life  

Oct 12, 2011

The Nitty Griity, Part 7: Fragile (as a Spiderweb)

"I've passed the point of no return. Do you know what that is, Beth? That's the point in a journey where it's longer to go back to the beginning. It's like when those astronauts got in trouble. I don't know, somebody messed up, and they had to get them back to Earth. But they had passed the point of no return. They were on the other side of the moon and were out of contact for like hours. Everybody waited to see if a bunch of dead guys in a can would pop out the other side. Well, that's me. I'm on the other side of the moon now and everybody is going to have to wait until I pop out".
- Falling Down


            Somehow, I got back to my apartment building without killing anyone or getting arrested. When I entered the parking garage, I sat on the curb in front of my car, put my head between my legs and started playing The Crying Game once again. A few neighbors walked by, but I didn't care. I figured that it was obvious that I had just lost a parent so they wouldn't think it was weird to see a grown ass man openly weeping in front of his car. I decided to take this public spectacle inside. Not wanting to cause a scene, I took the stairs to avoid any awkward encounters on the elevator. When I got upstairs, I was still a mess. I was crying in a way you may picture a bad actor crying in a bad movie who thinks they can rise above the shitty script and production value to snag an Oscar Nomination, but instead will never be taken serious as an actor, forever blacklisted after the infamous "crying scene" as it would come to be known. I figured it was time to get out of public view. My door was locked. I could hear some people inside. I started pounding on the door to be let in. I saw someone's eye looking through the peep hole. "Open the door", I tell whoever it is peeking out at me. I heard my friend, Mark, through the door. He told me that they weren't going to let me in until I got a hold of myself. Not understanding why they are being so unreasonable, I started slamming my fist as hard as I could, demanding to be let in to my own apartment. He said not until I calmed down. I kept violently turning my door handle trying to pull it open. "OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!", I yelled. Mark said,"Your mom said not to let you in until you CALM DOWN". I just got more upset. I think it was the emphasis he put on the last 2 words that set me off. I broke into a monologue that I looked like I had not even come close to mastering at the Eric Roberts School of Acting. I sobbed, yelled, and battered the door,"Dude, Mark, you're being an ASSHOLE!  I'M OUT HERE CRYING AND YOU WON'T LET ME IN MY APARTMENT? Come on, man, my fucking neighbors. I don't want anyone to see me like this. Mark?" No response. "Mark?", I ask softly. That approach didn't work. "MARK! YOU'RE A FUCKING ASSHOLE, MAN! I THOUGHT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE MY FRIEND? MARK! I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY FRIEND!" I hoped that this might guilt him into letting me in so I shut up for a second. "Not until you calm down", he says. Beyond frustrated, I walked down to the end of the hall to try to relax long enough to be allowed into my own apartment...then I spun around and ran back to the door and started pounding on it with my fists and feet. "LET ME THE FUCK IN!", I demand in a fashion I thought would make them too scared to not let me in. That didn't work either. I continued to pound on the door with no response. "FUCK YOU GUYS!", I yelled, then kicked the door as hard as I could before walking away. I would realize later that the door I was so violently trying to get into was not even my apartment door. I was trying to get into my old apartment on the same floor that I had moved out of more than a year earlier. Hope nobody was home.

            I walked past the elevator towards the other hallway. I walked down that hall and turned back. As I got to the end of the hallway, I heard someone step off the elevator. I had nowhere to go. I could have turned and ran down the hall, but I didn't want to bring any attention to myself or seem suspicious. I came around the corner and saw my neighbor get off the elevator. It was a lady in her late 40's. I always saw her around but didn't know her name. She said, "Hello." I said,"My dad died." After showing me some sympathy and seeing what a complete mess I was, she asked me if I needed some xanax and valium. I said,"Yes please", like a shy little kid...a shy little kid with a severe pill addiction...who probably would have broke into her apartment had he known she was holding what his body and mind had been starving for. I remember thinking ,"I've been detoxing and literally punching my bed because I can't sleep and there's benzos right down the hall? You gotta be kidding me!" I guess I thought it was stupid of me to not go door to door like some strung out Jehovah's Witness, explaining my situation and requesting some kind of sedative. "Hi, I'm Jim. I'm your neighbor from 507. I have had a serious pill problem since 2005. Recently, I ran out of money to feed my addiction so I can't sleep, or eat, or run, or function. It feels weird asking you this since we've only just met, but do you have any kind of sedatives or painkillers that you could spare BEFORE I TAKE MY FUCKING NINJA KNIFE I'VE HAD SINCE I WAS 10 AND END UP GETTING MY GODDAMN HEAD BLOWN OFF TRYING TO ROB THE  CLOSEST WALGREENS PHARMACY ? Oh, I'm sorry. Can you just tell your mom that Jim from 507 stopped by? 507, don't forget."

            I followed the one LakeView resident that I knew had something I needed down the hall to her apartment. She took the prescription bottles out of her kitchen cabinet and put some xanax and valium in a ziplock. She had no idea that I was the prescription pill equivalent of a crackhead, so she tried to explain to me what the pills did. " These yellow rectangle ones are xanax. You don't want to take the whole thing, you can break it into 4. If after an hour you don't feel any better take another quarter. These blue ones are valium. Take one before you go to bed. And don't drink or drive your car when you take them".  All I could think was,"Oh, really? Thanks for the lesson, but I'm practically a pharmacist. You're explaining the concept of 2+2=4 to Good Will Hunting."  She also asked me not to say anything to anyone. That wouldn't be a problem. I hadn't spoken to a real person in days. I thanked her and she gave me a hug. She closed the door and wisely locked it after I left. I should have taken them the minute her door closed if not before. I probably would have been able to sleep and then wake up from this nightmare. But shockingly, I didn't. I figured with my dad dying and my friends coming over, it was going to be a heavy drinking day, so I decided against immediately downing the pills as I would have normally done. Taking those pills would have been the best decision I had made since, I don't know, maybe since I decided not to blow money on a limo for Prom.

            I went back to my apartment, hoping to be allowed to enter since I pulled myself together enough for my neighbor to allow me in her apartment without being afraid that she might end up being grilled on her George Foreman. It was probably the promise of precious pharmaceuticals that got me to feign sanity. When I got to my apartment door, as in my current apartment door, I calmly knocked this time and stood there with both palms on the door and my head down. I could tell someone was looking through the peephole when I looked up. "Come on, man, let me in", I pleaded in a voice full of frustration and melancholy. I heard Mark ask, "Are you calm now?"  I said,"Yes just please let me in".  This was getting exhausting. " Are you sure?", Mark asked. "OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!",  I shouted as I began slamming my fist on the door again. This time, the door started opening and I pushed my way past. Some of my family from Philadelphia were already there. My friends and cousins tried to greet me but I just walked past everybody like someone walking into their own surprise party who despises surprises, loathes parties, and is full of psychotic rage. My mom and my Aunt Jeannie were making some food for the memorial. She said," What's going on with you?" I reminded her that dad had just died less than an hour ago. I asked," Aren't you even upset?" She said that she was but not like I was, saying that I was being over the top. "OVER THE TOP?" I yelled, and walked past my imaginary friends into my bedroom. I could hear an argument starting in the kitchen. My aunt was angry that my friends brought beer over since my dad was killed by a drunk driver. As they were going back and forth, I walked out to the living room of my apartment, realizing for the first time that it had an upstairs and a downstairs. I yelled over the rail with my most authoritative voice. "If my friends wanna drink, they can drink!" My friends were happy. My aunt was not. I went back in my room and collapsed on my bed. Jeff came in and  said,"Jimmy, what are you doing man? You gotta take a shower". I didn't respond. Jeff and another one of my friends tried to help me to my bathroom, but all they could do was drag my lifeless body from the bed. After undressing me down to my boxers, they put me on the shower floor, turned on the water, and left me there. After some time passed, I found the energy to get on my hands and knees. Even though I could not remember the last time I had a prayer answered, I started to pray. I prayed that this was all just a bad dream that I would soon wake up from, a prayer that had become quite common in the last couple years. I promised that if God answered this prayer, I would never ask for anything again. I figured I would be able to handle any other situation in the future on my own. I said that I would give everything I had, what little that was, to have my father back. I really did not care who answered me. I would have struck this bargain with anyone who may be listening: God, the Devil, Wes Craven's Wish Master, a genie in a bottle, I Dream of Jeannie, a fucking leprechaun. It didn't matter. I would have thrown a monkey's paw in a wishing well if I knew where to find either one. I doubt that The Monkey Jungle in Miami would allow me anywhere near it's simian residents, not to mention that the only wishing well I was aware of was an Irish pub in downtown Boca. Basically, I would have sold my soul. It was about all I had left with any value. I had already sold my PlayStation 3 and baseball cards. I figured that if there was a God, our lives were his reality television so he had no need for a big screen with a blown bulb. I figured that if the pawn shop didn't want to buy my Tag with it's busted  clasp, then Satan wouldn't have any interest in it either. Plus I was pretty sure that, like revenge, Satan does not wear a wristwatch.

            After I could not make my intentions any more clear, I stood up and washed myself off. I got dressed and left my room feeling considerably better. Everyone that I had imagined was there had left. I figured they were down at the area outside the community pool. As I waited for the elevator, I looked out the window. I saw my friends were all sitting on top of the palm trees across the street, in some kind of elaborate display of their support. I didn't wonder to myself how my friends, who had all suddenly became whatever you call those guys who climb for coconuts,  had got themselves up there, I just thought, "Man, you guys are the best".

          I walked  out front of my building. Either someone in my building was getting cable installed or just worked  for the company because there was a Comcast van out front. Somehow I thought that the van belonged to my neighbor, Bill, who had moved out a year earlier. Since I had no money, Bill was thoughtful enough to offer to transport my dad's body in the back of this Comcast van. Unlike my friends at the top of the trees, the work van was really there...and it was not locked.  I decided that I wanted  to spend a few minutes in the presence of the corpse of my father, who wasn't dead. He was most likely at Panera Bread enjoying coffee and a cinnamon crunch bagel  with my mom (who was just making potato salad in my apartment), since it was around the time they would be leaving Sunday service. I got into the passenger seat and just sat there. I saw a couple of my neighbors walking in front of the van with some groceries. I figured they were bringing me comfort food, so when they noticed me just sitting in the passenger seat of this Comcast work van, I waved at them and mouthed the words "thank you" as obviously as I could. I continued to sit there until Jeff walked up to the van. He and my other friends with their super climbing skills must have made their way down from the trees while I was on the elevator. Jeff said," All the guys really want to be here to support you, but it's Sunday so..", indicating that as sympathetic as they may be, they still didn't want to miss football. I knew how much more important Fantasy Football was to them than friendship, so I said that I understood. Jeff said they did feel bad, but the guys didn't want to miss the games either, so they were going to run some cables and hook up a big screen by the pool.  I thought that was a great idea since I didn't want to be alone, even though I was a Comcast van...talking to nobody...while I thought my dad's corpse was in the back next to the DVR's. Then Bill, my old neighbor who was going to transport the body, got into the driver's seat. He immediately lit up a joint. Another one of my friends, no doubt after smelling the joint, came and stood in the open passenger door next to Jeff. He asked about smoking it with us. Jeff told him, " No, Jimmy needs to smoke, let him smoke. Just go to the pool and he'll be over in a minute." Nobody thought it tacky that we were going to puff while pops is turning blue just behind us. Jeff, obviously not concerned that it was Bill's joint, instructed him, " The kid needs to smoke. Give him the joint, just let him smoke it by himself."  Bill agreed so he inhaled one last hit...then one more last hit...followed by his last hit. Bill continued to take one last hit until he could no longer hold the joint without the use of a pair of tweezers. He opened the driver door and flicked the roach out. He turned to me and shrugged his shoulders with a smile that indicated that he knew what he had just done was a dick move, and said, "Sorry", as if he did it by accident. Then he got out and walked away. I couldn't be mad though, since he was saving me money on the body transportation. Still, Jeff and I looked at each other in disbelief, while Jeff made the same face he makes in reality when he takes a second to determine if it's ok to laugh or not. I was in no laughing mood, so Jeff held it in. He said to take as much time as I needed with my dad, and then to come over to the pool. He said, "You're ok?" I told him that I was. So he closed my door, and walked over to the pool. I imagined that he was laughing his ass off all the way.

            Bill was a jack ass in reality so it was no surprise he was a jack ass in what had become my reality. Jeff was my best friend in reality and in my version of reality. I am pretty sure that if something like this had really happened, I would need him there, and with his wife's permission, he would undoubtedly be there as quickly as 300+ horsepower could take him, pausing only to drop his convertible top before hauling ass out of his driveway. Knowing this is probably why my mind, where soon to pass rationality was struggling to speak it's dying words, sent Dreamed Up Jeff an invite to this party. Why it invited Bill, I will never know. What was important was that my best friend was there, and even though I was deranged and he wasn't really there, he brought me some much needed comfort. Dreamed Up Jeff was not unlike the real Jeff, though I imagine that the real Jeff would have said something about me attempting to smoke a joint in a Comcast van that I thought my dad's dead body was in. But, then again, I could never imagine that my best friend would soon betray me.
" It's always a friend who hates you most"
  - Clear and Present Danger
Before the Betrayal