They are all drifting in and out of sleep in the icosahedron. Curled in this Platonic solid she falls asleep, drifts in and out, finally rests her long body. Then it’s up, wiping the sleep from her addict eyes and to the Seroquel and Ambien, one is never enough for the sleepless. The next morning when the camper near her tent wakes her before her time she screams at them all and cries about the weather. Awake, but in a trance – she is four, she is free, irresponsible, petulant, and cranky. She is unable to react to any emergency, a gawking, hollow, sleepwalking, six-foot-one burden.
She is self-medicating PTSD with five fingers of support, Seroquel, Ambien, Xanax, a muscle relaxant, and an even stronger sleeping pill. She isn’t a burden, just slightly low integrity due to grogginess which she cuts with caffeine. While accepting any pharmaceutical and alcohol she rails drunken against the rest one night as they lounge in the icosahedron. “You’d be out doing things if you didn’t do drugs all the time” – the rest, having used cannabis and intermittent N2O, can’t say anything in response to that and are too high to point out her hypocrisy, sensing her fragility. She tries to take her super-strong sleeping pill to sleep away the heat of the day, but it doesn’t work, leaving her a dopey mess – but with the presence of mind to stay inside her friend’s tent.
He’s driven a car hit by a drunk driver that killed his fiancé and unborn child. He’s shot and killed a man that broke into his home, protecting his second wife and two children. He’s survived brain cancer, cocaine addiction, MS, and public battles with and against the union and the energy company for whom he’s worked his whole career. He survives his third suicide attempt – swallowing a box and a half of Seroquel in a remote location on the coast, parked where the tide is sure to take him out. Randomly an officer finds him, he is helicoptered out with a pulse of 36, yet still has the presence of mind to grab the breast of the nurse with the air medical services, ironically a company called “REACH”.
She’s lied about her life for the last seven years, kept everything from everyone, lived in a lie off of her boyfriend, and is steeping in unpaid bills. The pressure builds up, hints are leaking, but no one knows anything until she disappears for three days. She’s found by the police, a few blocks from her home, locked in the trunk of her own car, dehydrated but alive. The last thing she claims to remember is being on the coast in the same remote location, swallowing a box of Seroquel dissolved in a bottle of wine. The police write it off as a suicide attempt and she is not examined for foul play.
I’ve never taken sleeping pills. They seem evil. Perhaps responsible use of them is just invisible, because all I’ve seen are nightmares.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Watching over-the-counter drug commercials targeted towards young mothers I am present to the classification of health problems by symptom and the idea of a drug as medicine.
“Mommy – I have a cough.”
“Here baby, here’s medicine for your cough.”
(thin strips for accurate no deviation from the median dosing each time! For the average child, that never grows, that never wavers, is always constant… For the mother that has no instinct or knowledge, that cannot measure, that has disempowered herself to consumer guidelines…)
And so the mother gives her child a drug to suppress her immune system, which reduces congestion, makes her cough go away, allows the pathogens a deeper hold on her young system, interferes with the long term functioning of her liver, immune, respiratory, and digestive systems and prolongs the duration of her illness.
Mother’s milk – the great deliverer of medicine. Compassion, nutrition, protein, chemistry, and toxicity.
What difference then, from the shaman that disempowers himself to the spirits? The medicine woman that listens to the plants? They and the mother pass down cultural ways of being around health, ways of being that demand participation, community, industry. Human instinct is to seek healing outside oneself. We’re all looking for that white coat.
The microscopic unknown of our own squishy and complex physiology terrifies us, and we’re in constant pain from dying. Sickness is fear and pain. We’re all dying. We’re all sick. We’re all afraid.
With each year that passes modern culture gains sophistication in a way that makes our illogical attachments to industry propaganda-seeded ideas of medicine more glaringly absurd.
Even the ones still plugged-in, drinking the kool-aid, unexamined, are keenly aware of the appalling humor of a list of prescription drug side effects that comes with every advertisement. Medications, not medicines. None of us believe in these singularly, but as a whole we lead our lives by them.
Popping a pill, symptom suppression, the convenience of a reactive attitude towards health – waiting until we get into the accident to get the bodywork - these aren’t medicine. Perhaps neither as a whole are food, herbs, supplements, psychoactives – all of which contain toxicity. What is medicine?
Is it what heals you? Or is it what takes the pain away? Is it outside you, or inside you? Where is the line between use and abuse? How proactive and additive about health can we be before losing time and pleasure to the pursuit, thereby subtracting from our health?
I don’t have the answer, but as the best medicine man (“drug dealer”) I’ve ever had used to say: “Medicine is anything that makes you happy.”
Friday, February 13, 2009
I’m on a ranch in Mendocino County. I traveled here on winding roads. Winding roads through rugged beautiful country, redwoods and grey skies – through pocket-sized towns that make obvious the dominant industry, head shops, hydro shops, healthy restaurants and hippie goods sprinkled among the basic supplies for rural life, coastal life.
Winding roads of history, odd connections, the path of who knows who that brought me here. Am I proud to be here? In this most illicit yet gentle of places?
Every place I move I find my way to the heart of – in Los Angeles it was Hollywood work and parties, running with the Crips, skipping around the underground art and music scene and meeting the personalities – the Dennis Woodruffs, Angelynes, and minor celebs. It was the psychedelic underground, the buyer’s market – the path of least resistance funneled me down the whirlpool to the center of the mayhem of the place. Los Angeles… El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula. No apologies.
And in the Bay Area – I find myself at NASA/Google parties and having tea with gay activists, visiting soup kitchens in Berkeley and working for venture capitalists and progressive writers/speaker/event/ television/radio personalities, learning the healing arts from the masters and of course… steeped in the weed culture – all this mind you without trying, without wanting, without choosing it. I just slide blindly to the peaks and troughs of the place – hoping Francis of Assisi wouldn’t be offended.
I’d rather not know what grows on this ranch. I ignore it, I tune out the talks of business as much as possible and pay attention to conversations of anything else. He is a surfer, she is a horsewoman. They are in their fifties, with a daughter in college. The ranch has a dozen or so horses on it and when the lover and I arrive she is exercising them in the pouring rain, one after another. The surfer watches her down in the arena from the window of the cozy main house, near the wood-stove.
“Look at her, out there, still riding. That woman was a warrior in a previous life.”
I remark. “I was probably a cleric in a previous life.”
“Everyone has their place.” He says. I take that as permission to write this entry.
The house is that of any other simple, rural hippie family. There is a giant vegetable garden, greenhouses, and chickens to make fresh eggs. Spiritual and political decorations and fridge-pinnings remind me of dozens of homes I’ve been in. This one is different, I remind myself. This one is a grey area, I remind myself. Twenty years ago, it was completely illegal. Now it may very well be legal via medicinal marijuana. I don’t investigate whether laws are broken or amounts exceeded. I just assume they are.
When she comes in she and I talk about the Dalai Lama, paganism, nutrition, and animals. The lover and he have gone off to do business. I don’t go to the business room, in another outbuilding nearby. I don’t have a prescription, and don’t want to put anyone at risk.
When they return my lover, eyes wide and hands waving, rants about medicinal laws and suing – passionately making a violent case for the medicine he abuses. We pass around a joint. It’s okay. I pretend to like it more than I do – to be polite. It’s organic – but other than that I don’t have much to say about him as a grower. He makes exquisite hash.
The lover and I go to the beach for an hour. The surf is large and the wind bites. He throws sticks to his dog. We smoke a joint of a few different kinds of weed mixed with hash. We become inquisitive children, small as blades of grass, meandering the short path back to the parking lot as if it’s a trail of epic adventure. We look at rocks and ladybugs and play until the automobile brings us back to adulthood.
The lover has set up a third party deal, but the young punk hasn’t called. There is much talk of business in front of me, and a phone call about wine and vintages and bottles and prices. I grimace. Afterwards, though, when they go into yet another outbuilding to make hash – I choose to accompany.
They are making hashish with a set of eight twenty-gallon bubble bags. With each bag the screen gets finer. The process is simple, in a large rubber trash bin they use a drill with long handled mixer attachment to agitate the plant material and ice water mix for a few moments, then they pour that into another bin fitted with the bags. Every bag they squeeze the water out of, scraping the results from the last two bags into a glass baking tray with a credit card.
The surfer chops the hash in the tray throughout – singing to himself “my hash is better than your hash, my hash is better than yours.”, and joking about his long-abandoned cocaine days as he cuts and remixes lines of the golden blonde powder. He takes some ribbing for his job of fluffing - people allude to the pornography position. FluffStar. I try to estimate the price of the tray, and figure it must be somewhere around $20,000 wholesale – could be up to $40,000 street value.
The hashmakers try to come up with a name for the product and I shut down my marketing mind, thinking of all the famous blondes I’d name my own hash after. My lover talks about it being a worthy bagful and they pin that as the name – Worthy Bagful.
Later we eat an organic vegetarian dinner, prepared by him. My lover and I are grateful and well-fed, and we all sit down to watch some DVDs. The last time I was here we went out to the movies – the theater offered organic popcorn with optional toppings like nutritional yeast or spirulina.
The conversation is usually about the law, the local crusty old growers, and stories of good times. Politics, pop culture, horses, and surf dot the speakscape. I note that my lover is passive aggressive, embarrassed by the mentor attitude of the surfer.
We sleep in another outbuilding, outfitted for guests, with an outhouse. Snuggled under the blankets we drift away quickly in the dead quiet. This place relaxes him, and he makes contact, throughout the night. It’s unusual for the lover to show affection, but here and at my home he loosens a little.
In the morning they take two hours to weigh out a few pounds, which the horsewoman and I find amusing. I find sisterhood with her, both of us having chosen to risk it all and be constantly slightly annoyed to be around men that are in the trade. We'd both prefer the men do something else. We'd both be hypocrites to complain; we're both stoners.
As we pack the truck full of weed, hash, and cold hard cash - the lover points out electrical details to the surfer, who despite years of experience apparently still doesn’t understand electricity. The lover traces a path from the transformer to yet another outbuilding, rattling amps and watts off. A horse whinnies and we take that as a cue to leave. They both hug us goodbye, and off we go – winding our way out of the frying pan and into the fire.
I try not to think about it.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I’d say after ten years the statute of limitations has run out on blogging about details of past relationships.
I had a boyfriend who was a good man, whose only sin was a lack of self-confidence that led to a childhood of substance abuse and eventually a binge alcoholism justified by him in its relative sobriety to his earlier years.
As men are wont to do he confessed to me on the first night of our relationship his deepest, weirdest sin. Once, when 17, he drank a few bottles of vodka and found a random dog and had it fuck him up the ass.
Told in the context of a deepest, weirdest, past sin – and in contrast to the rest of his personality – I accepted it as a literary flaw, and him as my boyfriend for three years. I’m thankful to have reached the level of maturity where I now understand the stupidity of that – as it was alcohol that eventually broke us up. I can’t deal with the boozers.
That drunken space, the place where inhibitions have been reduced beyond what is helpful for anyone. This space has value I’m sure, maybe it’s good to know what raw twisted behavior comes out when inhibitions are reduced and senses deadened. We all have a little dogfucker in us that needs to get out. However, I believe heartily in this: once you get the message, hang up the phone. No one needs to fuck a dog twice.
Speaking of stupidity and repeated dogfucking – one morning at about four he stumbles up the stairway drunk on whiskey. He has the decency not to sleep in our bed, knowing he may piss or puke in his sleep, so passes out in the hallway on the floor. At this point our relationship is close, but tense due to these nights of drunken binges and my severe issue with anyone who abuses alcohol as their drug of choice.
The next morning I see scratches on his back, deep scratches that I know *cannot* be human. My heart stops – I already know the answer:
“What happened to your back?”
He tells me the story point blank, he drank, he blacked out, he remembers pieces – like going to the park, finding a stray dog with an injured paw – and getting it to fuck him up the ass. Any time I’ve told this story in the past years – to anyone with a strong stomach and sense of humor – they ask “How the hell did he get the dog to fuck him up the ass?”
I don’t know. I was too stunned to think of that, so all I said was:
“Well, did you use a condom?”
Rightfully, he reacted as if that was ridiculous. Then again, so is ass-fucking a dog.
He was a good man though, and I couldn’t technically count it as cheating. So I stayed with him another year.
I’ve never been able to say that with a straight face so I hope you’re laughing too.