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Twisting all the bad things into good

May 23, 2012



       There are some nights I hold on to every note I ever wrote
       Some nights, I say "fuck it all" and stare at the calendar
       Waiting for catastrophes, imagine when they'd scare me
       Into changing whatever it is I am changing into...

       And you have every right to be scared.

        fun., Some Nights (Intro)

SATURDAY. 9/11/10

       It was getting old.
       One after the other, they just kept falling.
       I've seen it happen too many times.
       At the time, it seemed like the worst thing that ever happened.
       Now, I feel nothing.
       Maybe I've killed myself, on the inside.
       Back then, I felt everything.
       Now, I feel nothing.
       Everything get's overexposed.
       We do it to ourselves.
       Our favorite songs.
       Our favorite movies.
       Our favorite drugs.
       Our favorite whatever.

       The media does it to us.
       Acts of God.
       Acts of terrorism.
       Acts of whatever.

       The good, the bad, it doesn't matter.
       Too much of anything is still too much.
       It no longer affects you the same way.
       For better or for worse.
       And then it's on to the next big thing.
       Life goes on.
       If you don't die, life goes on.
       If you do die, maybe life still goes on.
       And then it's on to the next big thing.
       For better or for worse.

       Before she hung up the phone, she told her son that he should thank God, that it was a miracle that he was not dead, that there must be a reason that he was still alive, that he must have a special purpose, as if it was only by divine intervention that he had been spared when so many others were not, as if his life was more important than theirs, as if their mothers did not pray for their sons, as if they did not have their own special purpose.
       He couldn't say, "Mom, I'm not special", before he said goodbye.  
       He no longer believed in miracles.
       An act of God was an insurance clause.
       Interventions were not divine.
       They were well designed confrontations.
       Elaborate set ups.
       An attempt to prevent the inevitable.

       Speaking of disasters, Filip sits down next to me.
       "What's up, Filip?"
       "How did you know my name?"
       "That lady must have said it a hundred times trying to wake you up last night. What did you do, take a bunch of Xanax before you got here?"
       "Yeah. Seven."
       "Damn, bro. No wonder you wouldn't wake up. You were funny."
       "I was? What did I do?"
       "The paramedic chick said you if wouldn't talk to her, then you'd have to talk to the cops, and you said "fuck the cops and fuck you"."
       "The paramedics were here?"

        Sometimes, it's better to forget.

        Sometimes, you couldn't if you tried.
        It was almost that time.
        I don't know what to call it.
        It looks different to me.
        It's all black and white.
        Psychologists call it "splitting".
        Jeff called it "extreme".
        I call it "being me".
        For better or for worse.
        What do you call it?
        That time, when you can't distinguish day from night?
        The in between.
        The middle.
        A place I'd never been, or just never recognized when I was there.
        The part of the day when you still felt good about yourself, because you made it to the beach, because you got some sun.
       Those hours, before Saturday afternoon gave up the good fight, finally surrendering to Saturday night, the best night of the week, when most of the damage was done, when we would use the "get out of our heads card", back when there was a "middle", back when there was an "in between", back before the time of the day, or the night of the week had any hold over what we did, back before everywhere we went, back before everything we did, before every day, every night, had a dark cloud draped over a full moon, following us like some GPS we had either smoked, shot, snorted, or swallowed.


        And wherever we went, we were nowhere.
        And when we left, we were still there.
        And when we got home, we were still there.
        No matter where we went, there we were.
        Now here.

        There is no "in between", no "middle", not when you go nowhere.

        It only hurts when you know you should be "somewhere".

        Even if it was "in the middle".

        Even if it was "in between".

        It was not "nowhere".

        It was "somewhere".

        After a while, it was too much.
        I got up, and I changed the channel.
        Nobody said anything.
        They never did.
        I stopped changing channels when I got to Comedy Central.
        If they wouldn't talk, maybe they would laugh.
        I wondered how long the techs would allow a bunch of addicts to sit around and watch a stoner movie.
        Sparky and I laughed out loud, and even a few of the silent majority had smiles on their faces.
        In one of the early scenes, the head honcho of some hospital told Harold's homie that he was wasting his gift. Kumar replied, saying something about how if someone's hung like a Moose, it doesn't mean they should be doing porn.
        Sparky looked at me.
        "Alright, James," he said. "Weed and porn. This is your movie."

        This is my movie.

        My movie could have been so much better.


        After 36 hours, it occurred to me.  
        We're not here to get better.
        My mom asked me earlier, "Have they been helping you?"
        Without hesitation, without thinking of what she wanted to hear, I told the truth.
        "No, not at all."

        I had not learned anything about myself.
        The group therapy sessions and AA Meetings were nothing but a break from watching tv, playing dominoes and discussing our drugs of choice, which most of us would inevitably be returning to within hours of our release.
        That's why Loretta's been here three times in the last month.
        Each time, she's released from this place, having found no solutions that could not be measured in milligrams, no better than when she arrived, back to that place where she had been convinced that she was more than just disturbed and nothing less than possessed by the devil, a delusion not brought on by drugs or insomnia.

       We weren't here to get better.
       We were lunatics, taken off the streets long enough to postpone the inevitable.

       We were a bunch of atheists in church.
       I looked around this cracked out South County Congregation.
       I had been dragged here, by friends and family, wanting me to see the truth, when all I saw was lies. I was making the most of it, like some ornery kid at church, ignoring the real reason why he was there, while some people, like Sparky, were only there for some temporary shelter, needing somewhere to hide, knowing that a storm was on it's way.

       It would not last.

       It was not a time or place for saints.

       It was Saturday night.

       Another Saturday night would come, when nobody was around, no parents, no techs, no one to tell us it was time for bed, no "lights out", no matter how dark the place may be where we found ourselves.
       We'd break the laws of man and the laws of God.
       At the same time.
       We'd be there, and we'd be nowhere.
       At the same time.

       Is anybody getting anything out of this?
       I looked around.
       The people running this service, they were good people.
       They knew we could not be healed.
       We were wasting time, waiting to sin again.
       Just not today.
       Today was about waiting.
       Waiting for the world to start up again.
       As if it had stopped turning without us.
       I wonder how many people here were missed by anyone.
       I wonder if anyone even knew they were here.
       If anyone even cared.
       Jesus' sister did not seem concerned.
       I had my parents.
       I had my best friend.
       I received more incoming calls than everyone else combined.
       I was the only one who had a chance.

       I was not the only one who noticed that Viv the Voice had fallen in love with Filip.
       Falling in love was not a feeling I related to, but I wasn't against it.
       The thing that sucked about this was that it meant Viv went everywhere Filip went, which was wherever the rest of us went.
       Viv's voice made me miss the voices in my head.
       Sparky decided to plan their wedding for them. It was going to be held on the roof and everyone would have their D.O.C. delivered.
        Nobody hesitated, not for a second, when it came time to place their order. Ken wanted some ecstasy, Sparky and DJ wanted some "jimmy", Monica preferred the powder form, and what scared me most was that Loretta did not partake in drugs, a sign that her brand of madness was not drug induced.
        When my time came to choose, I hesitated.
        I was torn.
        Not knowing whether I wanted pills, weed, or booze, I settled for the booze, thinking and hoping it would be enough to get me through the night, and at the same time, knowing and fearing that it would only increase my appetite for everything else that I knew was at the party.
       I ignored the fact that, eventually, at this imaginary party, I would want what I knew was in the pockets of everyone around me, the pills, the powder, the pot, the whatever would get me high.

      But that was just fiction.

      That was just a game we played to pass the time.

       "James has obviously played this game a few times in his life."
       Sparky was right.
       He said that because I always held seven in my hand, something he perceived as skill, while everyone else stood theirs up, knowing they were going to lose, just wanting to play along, passing the time, accepting defeat as part of the game.

       It was almost like they had given up.

       As I distributed the dominoes to start what would be the last game of the night, I told a story I had not thought about in years.
       I laughed out loud, to myself.
       "When I was in college, this one summer we were running dominoes pretty much every night. We'd be smoking weed, drinking forties, listening to Tupac, like we were in some hood movie. My girlfriend was bitching to her friend about how every time she called I'd be playing dominoes, and, for some reason, her girlfriend thought that was sooooo funny. So one night I told them to come over because I had a bunch of people there and not everyone was playing so they could still chill or do whatever, so they get to my house and I'm getting ready to slap down my shit and yell "DOMINO, MOTHA FUCKA!", and her moron friend looks at us all weird when she sees us playing like it's a card game. When my girlfriend told her we were playing dominoes, she thought we were all hanging out, getting all fucked up, lining up dominoes just so we could knock them down like it was Mousetrap or some shit. Can you imagine a bunch of dudes hanging out, smoking blunts, drinking, setting up dominoes, watching them drop, high fiving each other?"

       Like any funny story, we laughed, until it wasn't funny anymore.


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