My photo
Twisting all the bad things into good

Apr 25, 2012


Times have changed
Times are strange
Here I come 
But I ain't the same

Ozzy, Mama I'm Coming Home    

        SATURDAY AFTERNOON. 9/11/10

        "I spoke with your attorney."
        "My attorney?"
        I don't have an attorney. I'm a loser.
        What's next? Is my conglomeration going public?

        "Your attorney friend" my dad says.
        Big difference between having your own attorney and having a friend who happens to be an attorney.
        "Are you talking about Mike?"
        "Yeah. Mike."
        "You talked to Mike? How'd you talk to Mike?"
         "Jeff gave me his number."
        "Ok. What did you and Mike talk about?"
        "He was really concerned about you. What a super nice guy."
        "Yeah, he is. I don't know what I would have done without him. He really came through for me. I was facing three felonies for those pills. Mike's awesome."
        "How did you get hooked up with him?"
        "He went to Pope, but he graduated the year before me."
        "We spoke for a while about your case. Why didn't you say anything about the D.U.I.?"
        "Wow. So that did happen. I wasn't sure."
        "You thought it was one of your hallucinations?"
        "I don't know what I thought. I guess I kind of forgot about it."
        "You forgot you got arrested?"
        "No. I just...I don't know... it's weird, I can still remember my hallucinations as if they happened, but the weeks leading up to them are just a big blur. I mean, I'm not even sure about when I got the DUI."
        "You got it on the 25th."
        "Oh.The 25th. Okay."

        He observed my moment of silence.        

        "Of August," he says. "August 25th."
        "Ohhhh, alright. So, like 2 weeks ago. I really lost track of the days."
        And the weeks...and the months...and the years.

        I tell him, "I only know today's date because everyone is watching the 9/11 anniversary coverage on the tv. Man, you believe it's been nine years?"
        He didn't shout "ALLAHU AKBAR" or anything, but it was clear that he was more concerned with a slightly smaller American tragedy.
       "You have to go to court on the 25th. That's a week from Wednesday. I'm gonna fly down on Monday the 23rd. We'll get packed up and we'll drive back on Thursday. When you got the DUI, did they take your license?"
       "Yeah, it was already suspended."
       "How much did you have to drink when they pulled you over?"
       "Not that much. I shared two buckets of beers with my friend and his son, so I had probably had  three or four."
       Then I shared another bucket with myself after they left.
       "The only reason I even went out that night was because I thought a few beers might help me get some sleep."
        They did. I passed out as soon as the cell door closed behind me.

       "Jimmy, we're gonna put everything that happened behind us. All of that is in the past.  Your mom and I just want to know you're gonna be alright on your own for a week until I get down there?"    
       "Yeah, I'll be fine. Don't worry about me."
       Laugh. Out. Fucking. Loud.

       "Everybody's excited for you to move up. You're gonna make a fresh start. We're gonna make up for lost time, we're gonna go to the gym everyday, you're gonna get in really good shape."
       With a bad back and no painkillers, I don't see myself doing the whole L.A. Fitness routine, but I keep that to myself.
        "Just don't get in any trouble. Don't drive anywhere, not even around the corner. You're starting with a clean slate today."

        "I know. I'm not going to do anything stupid."   
        "How's it going in there?"
        "Actually, dad, it's not that bad. I kinda feel like I'm at summer camp."
        "You're fucked up, son."
        He didn't say that, but he probably thought it.
        He did say my mother wanted to talk to me.
        My mom got on the line.
        I couldn't even hear the shame in her voice.
        "Hi, mom. So, I hear you're glad your crazy son is coming home?"
        "Of course. I can't wait."
        "Uh, thanks, Mom. You're supposed to say "You're not crazy, son"."
        "I've been praying for this for years, that we'd all be together again. I just always thought you'd get married, have kids and never leave Florida."

        This is the part where I totally distort my mother's prayer.

        The Gospel According to Peg.
        Chapter 2
        Verses 1999 - 2008

        Are you there God? It's me, Margaret MacDonald. 
        Sweet Jesus. I know you did not answer my prayers when I begged you to not let my husband go to prison for eight and a half years or when I pleaded with you to let our family stay together, but I'm still going to ask for a little divine intervention.
       Please, Lord, I'm begging you to allow my first born child to fuck up his life really bad, not so bad that he dies, just bad enough that he has nowhere to go but to come home to his mommy.
       And Lord, please allow his self-destruction to happen  before he meets a really hot girl dumb enough to marry him and bear his children. If he ever does have children, I'd like to be close enough to them to know he is not dipping their pacifiers in Jack Daniels because he thinks it will help them fall asleep. 
       Maybe all my prayers are in vain, but for some reason, I keep praying. Even if my son does not deserve his prayers to be answered, that's if he even prays anymore, I have faith that, if it be your will, you might still answer mine.  
       I never believed that Da Vinci Code bullsh...I mean, blasphemy, so I know you never had any children of your own, so maybe your Blessed Mother can explain to you what it's like to have a son. Yes, "we're all God's children", but you know what I mean. You know everything.
       I'm sorry, Lord, but I have to go, that's my other line's beeping. That might be him right now, calling from Florida, or it might be my daughter who I never see because she lives on the opposite side of the continent in Canada where she stayed after we left the country. It's neither one of my kids, but I still have to answer it. It's a call from a federal prison, where my husband lives. 
        But I don't have to tell you.
        You already knew.
        K, bye.

       She said "k, bye" before hanging up with me.
       She must have forgot to say, "Son, you're not crazy."
       But she didn't have to tell me.
       I already knew.


Apr 12, 2012


 Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words – the words live on for as long as there are readers to see them, audiences to hear them. It is immortality by proxy. It is not really a bad deal, all things considered.
J. Michael Straczynski

             SUNDAY. 9/12/10

            There was no group therapy on the weekends.
            Instead, we attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

            This was our Sunday Service.

            When we entered the cafeteria, the dually diagnosed alkies were already there, as were two former alkies who would be leading this meeting of the mad minds. One of them was an overweight Italian guy on crutches. His overweightedness was not really a word, and it was also not quite enough on it's own to necessitate the use of crutches, but it couldn't have been good for his knees, especially the one in the brace.
            As for the other guy, before he even said a word, it was obvious that he was as Irish as he was miserable.
            This should be inspiring.

            Due to the "anonymous" part, I won't use their real names.
            Damn. Why didn't I think of remaining anonymous when I started writing about my most humiliating and shameful moments?
            I'm sure that, on a subconscious level, it had something to do with the possibility of future royalties and the inevitable sex that must follow self-publishing an ebook after giving up on finding a real publisher.
           I wonder what my pen name would have been?
           Dirty MacDirtbag, maybe?
           Fuck it. It's too late now.

            The Italian starts by saying,"I'm Nicky the Knee, and I'm an alcoholic."
            Hi Nicky.
            He reads the AA Preamble with as much passion as a devout Catholic's husband who has been dragged to mass and recites the Apollo's Creed on auto pilot while he is really praying that The Saints are going to cover the 6 point spread against The Lions that afternoon. After the gambler asks Jesus for a sign,  he remembers a story about lions mauling Christians in the Coliseum, so he decides to let it ride on The Lions.

            This time, history does not repeat itself.
            The Lions fall to The Saints.

            He loses his bet...his car...his house...his children...his self respect...and his left pinky.
            It's a sad story that is probably more appropriate for a different kind of anonymous meeting.

            As for this anonymous meeting, Tony Manuzzi, I mean, "Nicky the Knee", continues reading.
            "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."
            Yeah, that's not gonna happen. Let's see how I do with keeping off the pills and the powder, and possibly even the pot, before I start considering not drinking a Blue Moon every once in a.....while.

            "There are no dues or fees for AA membership."
            In that case, let me put my wallet back in my pocket. Oh wait, it's with all my other personals that I was stripped of when I was brought here against my will, another event that seems like ancient history.

            Nicky then introduces the Irishman.
            Let's call him, Fergus O'Flannery. 
            That sounds Irish to me.
            So does his accent, so his moniker fits.

            Fergus tells his story. He mentions how he used to drink at Daniel O'Connel's in Boca. I used to frequent this same pub. When I'm reminded of the many good times I had there before the pills took over, it made me really want a Guinness. 
            What I don't want, ever, is to have to drink a bottle of red wine as soon as I wake up just to stop the delirium tremens long enough to get out of bed and get ready for work. After his Burgundy breakfast of champions, he would make himself a mixed drink for his ride to work. His mixed drink consisted of tequila mixed with a Big Gulp cup. Hearing this made me want to fucking vomit.
            That seemed excessive even to me.
            At least this got him through the morning. When lunchtime came, he would go to the bar and drink shots of vodka. After he got off work, suffice to say, he didn't hit up L.A. Fitness.

            All his story did was convince me that I wasn't even close to being an alcoholic. Sure, once I started drinking I never wanted to stop, but I never drank straight tequila, sorry, tequila on ice, out of a cup the size of a small trash can.
            At least I would have had something to vomit in.

           Maybe it's not AA's fault.
           Even when I went to a few Narcotics Anonymous meetings in high school, I felt the same way.
           When my friend got arrested with weed during our Senior Year, I decided to be supportive and attend a few meetings with him. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was my weed he got busted with. When I heard stories about guys losing everything they had because of smoking crack, I didn't really feel like a druggie for spending fifty bucks a week on a bag of pot that I had no doubt been shorted on by the friend who sold it to me.
            It was clear to me that I didn't have a drug problem and that I never would.
            As I sit in the mental health facility that I was sent to because of my drug problem, I realize that Collin, or whatever his name isn't, is an idiot.
            He starts to talk about choosing a higher power. 
            I find it interesting that we get to choose our higher power in some kind of deity draft. Wouldn't that kind of negate the " higher power" part if it was up to us?
            Then he says, "My higher power is not God. I don't believe in some guy up in the sky with a beard."
            Does anyone over the age of 7 or who is not burned out on acid really believe that God looks like Jerry Garcia? Does this guy not think that God would have the Patron Saint of Five O'Clock Shadows have Him clean shaven by three? Oh, I forgot, God exists beyond the limitations of time and space, but somehow still has facial follicles. And who says God is a man, woman, or any kind of physical being?
            What is this guy's higher power, the Notre Dame leprechaun?
            "My higher power is my deceased mother", he says.
            Believe what you want, but don't try to convince me that if there is no God, clean shaven or not, that your dead mother can hear your Serenity Prayer.
            I started to think that perhaps I was being a bit harsh towards the guest speaker, so I diverted my attention towards the dually diagnosed alcoholics from the other wing, so I could stop myself from being so judgmental.
            What a bunch of fucking losers.
            They were in worse shape than any of us.
            Maybe Sparky wasn't bullshitting when he said crack saved his life by helping to stop boozing.

            It was interesting how they all stayed on the left side of the room, and we all stayed on the right.
            It felt, at least to me, like how a sports team becomes closer when they are in the presence of their opponent.
            If this was some kind of cross town inner city rivalry football game, the South County Psychos would have destroyed The Delray Drunks.

            Naturally, I would have been MVP of the All South County Game.
            I would have raised my trophy, topped by a guy in a straitjacket , over my head, and held back tears of joy as I gave my speech:
            "First, I'd like to thank Ferguson's dead mother. Then I'd like to thank my own mother, who is still alive, and my father, who, less than a week ago, I thought was dead, but Ferguson's dead mother answered my prayer that it was all just some kind of bad dream that I would wake up from. I'd like to thank them for not disowning me and for giving me another shot at a championship before I retire. A lot of people, including myself, thought I had suffered a career ending injury. But I'm back. And maybe I'm not a role model. Maybe I'll never be invited to speak at or even attend a 12 Step Meeting. Maybe I'll never be anyone's hero. Maybe I'll never be the patron saint of ...whatever. Maybe I'll never be anything but a cautionary tale about unfulfilled potential like some child actor who peaked at the age of ten, but I wouldn't bet against me no matter the odds. Whitney Houston sang, "I rise and fall, yet through it all, this much remains, I want one moment in time, When I'm more than I thought I could be"."
              I ramble on.
              "That kind of moment can flood an entire life with meaning and wash away the regrets and replace them with something better. I don't know what that is, and maybe I never will. But it is worth searching for. And if I do find it, well, then I wish you all my kind of luck. May Ferguson's dead mother bless you all. Thank you."

            The crowd would have went crazy, if they weren't already.

            I would have done it.
            I would have been great.
            Even if it was only for a moment.

            That would be enough.

Apr 3, 2012

CHAPTER 18: THE PATRON SAINT OF . . . WHATEVER. Stroke of Genius (Part 3 of 3)

I don't possess these thoughts I have,
they possess me.
I don't possess these feelings I have,
they obsess me. 
 Ashley Lorenzana

            SATURDAY. 9/11/10

            Beethoven was not just some slobbering St. Bernard one bat bite away from being Cujo.
            But in a way, he was.
            He was bipolar.
            A couple of cinematic canines inside one classical composer.
            In movie dog terms, rabies made him a crowd pleaser.
            Confused? Not picking up my dog shit? 
            Like a responsible, yet resentful neighbor, I'll clean it up.
            Beethoven, the man, felt that his mental illness fueled his creativity. He wrote his most famous works during times of torment, loneliness, and psychotic delusions.

            Aristotle said, 'There was never a genius without a tincture of madness."

            It's a thin line.
            The last time I tried to walk such a line, I stumbled my way right into a jail cell.
            This time, nobody was watching me.
            Maybe they were and I just didn't know.
            Paranoia is one problem I don't have.
            Why? Did someone say I was paranoid?
            Who have you been talking to about me?
            If it was my doctor, he would have told you that my biggest problem was lack of sleep.
            Even Sasha Grey would have had trouble swallowing that one.

           When you are involuntarily committed to a mental health facility and made to swallow antipsychotics, it seems as good a time as any to question your sanity. The more times I went over all that happened, and all that I thought happened, the more I considered the doc's explanation as easy to accept as a handjob from a leper.       
            Even if I was not "crazy" crazy, I had to admit that, without my conscious consent, a previously unexplored place in my mind had been tapped into, and the things that sprung from there were more absurd than any movie I had ever seen or any book I had ever read. I could have never come up with such bizarre situations, but I did.
            If I was mad, it was because I was a mad genius.

            That would be my diagnosis.
            That would be my defense mechanism.

            One of the things that sets us geniuses apart from the normals and the dummies, is the ability to have an original thought.

            This was not one of them.
            Over the years, my friend, "John Jeffson", called me a genius so many times that I had lost count back before I took the SAT's stoned out of my mind in the 11th grade.
            I think "JJ" was probably being sarcastic though, because he only used the "g" word after I did or said something really stupid. He didn't use it in regards to the whole SAT thing though. That would have been the pothead calling the Ketel One black. If you'd seen Jeff's, I mean, John's usually blue eyes that morning, you'd know what I mean. If you don't, you're no genius either, genius.
            Even though I was convinced that I had scored a perfect 1600 because I wasn't "overthinking" my answers, I actually got a 990. Well below genius numbers. At least I was correct when I answered "True" to the statement: "I am not overthinking my answers to this test that my parents sent me to an expensive Kaplan class to prep for, never expecting that I would powersmoke five bowls in a last minute cram session with my genius best friend beforehand."
            I don't know what my stoned study buddy scored, but at least his life worked out.
            I knew that, baked or not, I wasn't a genius, at least, not in some kind of standardized test way that means absolutely nothing to anyone who does not perform well on standardized tests. Last I checked, I was three dozen points short of Mensa Membership. That's fine. I'm not a big fan of  hanging out with people smarter than me. They might be able to see through my bullshit.

           This kind of genius had nothing to do with scores and scantrons.
           Besides, those tests are culturally biased.
           This was about intangibles and those things that can't be defined.

            I must have been one of those twisted, creative genius types whose debauchery, as well as bad behavior, would one day be celebrated as something that just went with the territory of being a...uh...twisted, creative genius type.

           This poster on the rec room wall was full of these types of geniuses, as well as plenty of mentally ill people who were famous, but who I would hesitate to call a genius as to not cheapen the label I had given myself. I just wanted to find someone on that poster who I could relate my experience to and then steal their mental illness and make it my own. Maybe wanting a mental illness is a mental illness in itself. If I don't find one that suits me, I may have to settle for that.

          Hey, there's Brooke Shields.
          I definitely would not put her in any category that I'm looking to place myself in. I'm sure in her heyday, or any other day of her life, she would have looked a hell of a lot better in my little jean shorts than I would on my best day, whenever that was. Still, below the surface, there may be something that links me with the model/actress.
          I take a closer look to read the caption under her pic to find out what her problem is.  It says she suffered from post partum...nevermind.
          That shit's for moms.

         The face next to her's is another actress, Carrie Fisher.
         I didn't know Princess Leia was bipolar.
         Best keep that bitch in a galaxy far, far away away from me.
         Poor Han Solo. His woman has manic depression and his best friend is a Wookie.        

          Bipolar is for girlfriends.
          I want to be labeled with a mental illness that is both manly and cool, and most importantly, blurs the line between madness and genius.
           I think I've earned it.

           Sir Isaac Newton.           
           Possibly schizo.
           Possibly bipolar.
           Definitely a math guy.
           Not my best subject.

           Brian Wilson's pretty cool.
           The creative genius who named his band The Beach Boys even though not one of them surfed.
           Schizoaffective disorder.
           Besides having zero musical talent, I'd like to avoid any disorder with "schizo" in the name.
           Plus, it's the bipolar type.

          Abe Lincoln.
          It says our 16th President had depression and suicidal thoughts.
          I really don't see myself ever entering politics in this lifetime, not with the graveyard in my closet. There's a better chance of me assassinating a president than ever being one. Makes me wonder what John Wilkes Boothe's major malfunction was.

            John Nash.
            Wow. John Nash. I never knew John Nash was mentally ill.
            Who the fuck is John Nash?
            Oh, okay. He was the paranoid schizophrenic mathemagician who Russel Crowe played in Gladiator, or maybe it was A Beautiful Mind. As cool as it would be to have a movie made about me, schizophrenia is a bit on the extreme side of the mental illness spectrum for me to be comfortable with. Plus, Good Will Hunting, is the coolest math problem solver guy ever. How do you like them apples, Isaac Newton? Angry Will Hunting would beat Nash's ass into the ground of an outdoor basketball court, even if that fight was only possible in the mind of a schizo. In a real life fisticuffs between Academy Award Winners, I don't know, I think that Cinderella Man would probably beat the shit out of The Talented Mr. Ripley, but Jason Bourne is as sick as they come, so I'm gonna have to give to it Damon on screen, but as for off screen, well, I guess I skipped over that because it would never happen. Seriously, why would Matt Damon fight Russell Crowe? That's just stupid. A genius does not waste his time considering such nonsense.

            Vincent Van Gogh.
            There was debate that schizophrenia and being bipolar inspired his paintings, of which he only sold one before his death. There is no debating that his last work of art was created with a shotgun  instead of a paintbrush.

            I'm looking for someone who is a tortured, but accomplished writer. I'd welcome that over a life of mediocrity. My problem, well, one of my problems, was that I wasn't even mediocre. I sucked.
           Edgar Allen Poe.
           A dark, tortured, opium smoking alcoholic is much more my style.
           Come on, man. I didn't know Poe was bipolar too. I do know that he exploited his personal struggles in his writing, which seems like a pretty good idea to me. I'll have to remember that.

            Darkness, I can deal with. Depression, I'm done with.

            Charles Dickens.
            I imagine that his depression would not be alleviated if he knew that I had  blasphemed his most beloved novel by insinuating that I am some kind of strung out Scrooge in my own cracked out version of A Christmas Carol. 

           Leo Tolstoy.
            I always confuse him with Dostoyevsky. It looks like Tolstoy is the one who wrote The Confession about his mental problems.
            A memoir about depression and substance abuse written by a hypochondriac?
            Sounds pretty lame.

            Ernest Hemingway.
            Never heard of him.

          Kurt Cobain.
            Attention Deficit Disorder/Bipolar. I'm gonna guess that it wasn't as much ADD as it was his Bipolar depression that resulted in the gunshot to the head that resulted in The Foo Fighters. Kurt was pretty cool, a bit overrated in my opinion, and definitely loses points for marrying Courtney Love. Plus, I always preferred Pearl Jam.            
         Virginia Woolf.
           All I know about this bipolar novelist is that she filled her pockets with rocks and drowned herself in a river, and that somebody is afraid of her.
           Sylvia Plath.
           Poet, short story and novel writer.
           Depression lead to her suicide by putting her head in an oven.
           What's with these women writers? Why don't they just blow their bipolar brains out with a shotgun like the men do? 

         Tennessee Williams
           Suffered from depression. Great playwright. Gay playwright.
           I'm not sure how he died, but I doubt a shotgun was involved.

           Eugene O'Neil.
           A writer who suffered from depression. How novel.

         Friedrich Nietzsche. 
           Like me, Nietzsche went crazy. Unlike me, he never came back. I think I'm back, but then again, a few days ago I was convinced that I was party to a shipwreck discovery. I'm still not sure what that was all about.
           Nietzsche is the philosopher most often quoted by wannabe intellectuals who try to apply his words to themselves. My personal favorite being, "Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with his own blood." 
            I don't know what that means, but someday, maybe I will.

            But at what price?   

            Would I really welcome some form of madness if it meant admitting that I will never change what I am, but I might be able to twist weakness into the strength necessary to write in my own blood even one thing that I considered worthy enough to justify a psychotic episode and deplorable behavior, if it allowed me to do what mattered to me without the worry of what people might think or say, even if it meant that everyone else might not laugh with me, or near me, but only at me, but in those same times I could laugh at myself, by myself, and find enough meaning in my half assed attempt at art that I could say "fuck it" and "fuck them" if they don't like it or if they don't like me, because my insanity would be romanticized whether I cut off part of my ear or preheated my head in an oven before I painted the walls with my brains, or even if I just decided to not become a cliche and decided to do something as boring as it is original by attempting to die, but only after I've lived, happy...
            And if that is madness,
            if that is mental illness,
            if I have not done so already,
            show me where to sign up,
            Let my pen...
            and my name,
            and my life,
            be my own.

           Before I got too deep to make it back to the surface with any air left in my lungs so I could sign my name in blood in request of my preferred brand of lunacy like I was at some deranged deli, I had a few thoughts that were borderline brilliant.

           Their lives were their own.             
           Their existence, their experience, could not define mine.
           As great as many of these people were, I'd prefer to pass on the misery and the depression that seemed to define many of their lives.
            I always wanted to be great.
            I never wanted to be a "normal" person.
            I believed them when they told me I was special.
            I was none of the above.
            It did not take a poster to reveal this to be true.
            Special people do special things.
            Normal people don't end up in places like this.
            Great men do not jerk off in the shower in a place like this.
            If you know of any, please email me as soon as you finish reading this at
            That sounds like one book I would really like to read.

            I would have liked to compare notes with that writer, had I bothered to take any of my own.
            That's when I think I had a side effect common to antidepressants known as a "brain zap". If I wasn't being sedated with second generation atypical antipsychotics and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, I would have called this a "moment of clarity". Every writer who appeared on this poster, whether genius or bipolar or both or neither, as well as every writer who did not appear on it, had one thing in common. They all did one thing that I didn't.
           They all wrote.
           There's a stroke of genius.

            It is not uncommon for a genius to "overthink" such a simple concept, and as a result, overlook that which may seem obvious to a person of normal intelligence. So if you caught on to the whole "writers write" thing before I did, well then we both know who the genius is. I'm sure in comparison, your moral superiority negates your intellectual inferiority, so don't get too down on yourself.
            Dumb ass.
            It may have been the medication, but my "overthinking" mind was now picking up on what even the most moronic of normals had never realized. Maybe I had dumbed it down, but it seemed so obvious.
            Who was the genius who "under thought" it was a good idea to put this "inspiring" poster on the rec room wall of a mental health facility? How did nobody realize that just about every face on this poster is of someone who killed themselves as a direct result of their mental illness?  Excuse me, I meant, killed themselves as a direct result of their gift

           I started to ponder whether being a genius was really the romantic notion I had romanticized it to be.

           I'll just settle for being a jerkoff.
           Being a jerkoff has less stigma attached to it.
           Everybody does it.
           Just not in a mental facility.
           So, I'm not a mad genius or some  tortured artist.
           Maybe being original is better than being haunted.
           Maybe I just needed my medication increased.
           Or maybe decreased.
           Or maybe it was just right.

           Most likely, I was just really bored.

           I looked around the table at some other people who were not geniuses or normals or dummies.

          "Anyone wanna play some dramahoes?"

           They did.
           As usual, I won.
           It didn't take a genius.