this'll be quick. i don't know what made me think of it just now, but i must share this anecdote with the interzone regardless. what day was this, maybe last wednesday? doesn't matter. so i'm sitting in the cafeteria/dining hall place area at my pathetic excuse for a school (close examination led me to the conclusion that it looks more like a 1970s minimum security prison than an instution of higher learning) with a couple of friends, surfing the metaweb on one of the compooters that flanks the eating area.
facebooking like a nerd, looking at pictures/videos of cars i can't afford, reading the news, all the stuff i normally do on the interweb, save for stockpiling pornz. so i'm minding my business, and that's the key here, cuz it's my business and i'll mind if i want to, ya know? so like i said, fucken minding my business real casual like, when i hear this voice, faint but still audible of the din of eating and mindless conversations elsewhere. "Suh! Suh! Suh!" over and over again, about once every five seconds or so.
now don't ask why, but i turned around. come to think of it, i know it's probably because my name's kasai, and "suh!" sounded like someone was calling me at the time. i know, stupid. but wait, it gets worse.
so i turn around to find that the person beckoning to me was truly a pathetic specimen. weighing in at no less than 450lbs, she had fucked up, misaligned cornrows, bloodshot eyes, three, yes three fannypacks and about five layers of outerwear on, despite moderate, early spring mid-atlantic temps outside.
unbelievably, i stand up, and walk over to this person, completely outside of myself as i respond to her request to help her with something. i have no idea what it is she wants help with, but i get up and am carried by some transient force over to her. upon closing the gap, i notice that her face is covered in the stuff that forms in the corners of your eyes overnight. nast! but i don't turn around.
"you eva gotta you?!!??!"
i feel sorry for this person, which is a selfish thing, that pity. but i do honestly, so wincing at this barrage of unintelligible gibberish, i try to decipher her question. she's not necessarily frowning, so i feel more comfortable with this crazy than say, your street variety, the type that poses serious threats to safety and one's daily agenda in an urban center such as my hometown fuckpit of baltimore.
"you?" i ask politely.
"yeah you eva gotta you befow?!"
somehow, after about 30 seconds of silence and shoulder shrugging, i figured out the meaning of her foolishness.
"like the letter u?" i calmly inquired.
"yeah yeah, you eva gotta u befow"
trying to avoid direct eye contact lest i be turned to stone, my face feels like it's melting, on account of crack breath, hotness i can feel despite the five feet of distance between us.
i'm determined to navigate through this conversation, even if it's not me behind the wheel. and in regards to this individual in particular, let me just make clear that i regard myself as highly empathetic, sometimes to a fault. it's hard to turn a blind eye to the striking poverty prevalent in this country ("they must starve so that others may eat" bullshit), and i especially feel for the homeless. whenever i see a guy or a girl begging i immediately fish out cash if i have it, even if i sense they're going to buy rocks with it. hell, that's what i was going to spend it on. the point being that i'm not one of those "get a job homeless" assholes, all apathetic and shit. big pat on the back for me, huh?
so back to this woman and her letter u.
"my teacher gay me a u!?" she declared, clutching the pink grade report in her hand. "what that mean?"
"probably unsatisfactory." my honest answer "Yeah, i don't know, probably an unsatisfactory." a guess, but a good one.
somewhat mollified by my reply, she shut up long enough for me to be steered back to my seat to continue facebooking/youtubing/googling my day away. my friend asks why i even got up in the first place. to this day i don't know. back to the interweb.
but she just won't give up. i hear her rambling to noone in particular about how fucked up it is that she got a "you," rationalizing what went wrong. out loud. before long: "i know! he wanna have sex wit me?!?!! uh huh, he wanna have sex wit me!?!"
at last revealing herself as that most intriguing type of crazy, the megalomaniacal rambler, i hardly felt bad about exploding into laughter at the drop of this truth bomb. she repeated her revelation out loud, with the conviction and satisfaction not unlike that of watson and crick upon their bustin up of the helix. i suppose anyway. deduction and calculation paying off.
after about 10 minutes of sharing her conclusion with the corner of the eating place, she began to call me again. "Suh!" what could there be to talk about? i began to become irritated. i mean reading wall posts and favoriting music videos is important stuff. farbeit for bums to interrupt that shit. but nonetheless, i started feeling the heat in my face, the accelerated heart rate that come with an impending rage out.
yeah, i wanted to go all patrick bateman on a bitch, all guns of brixton. real in your face, ya know? kinda like, "you're a drain on the morale and resources of modern society, and i don't give a fuck if you can't help it, figure it out!" kinda like, "you smell like urine! fuck off, don't talk to me, eyes to the floor!"
but i didn't. coulda but didn'tna, as i don't really share mr. bateman's intense hatred of the homeless. restraint for the day. she ended up running off to some cashier in the eating place. that's the end. great story, huh?
Rehab. Two utterly devastating syllables, a glib abbreviation of what for some is the most cathartic experience of their lives. It's a shame that this piece of shit is the current visual representation of what goes down inside the walls of the country's rehabilitation centers, but what can you do? Amurricans are fucken stupid that way I guess.
I put off writing about my own experience with "rehab" due to my accountability to an english class blog connected to the Savant, but I dropped that ish, so, self-disclosure is in order.
A harrowing weekend involving taking 64 triple c's in 48 hours (round abouts 2 grams of dxm; the more sane person would know that you're only supposed to take 4 pills every 24 hours, so there you go) would lead me down the "road to recovery," sort of. While the first night was a relatively good trip (driving around, sketching out girls, vibing on the golden tee, getting kicked out of a bar), the second night was horrific, culminating in my mother accusing me of being on drugs and pleading with me to get help. now anyone reading this who's ever taken ANY kind of hallucinogen knows that this kind of thing is unequivocally devastating; not like "weed," where you could kind of shrug it off, all giggly and tight eyed. no. your entire state of mind, your state of being is fucked up by things like that when tripping and i was no exception that saturday night before the super bowl.
incontinent, depressed, and hallucinating severely, i stayed awake through the morning, watching movies to try to kill time until the game. being a huge football fan, i hoped the "big game" would lift my spirits some.
fast forward past 12am. still tripping somewhat during the contest (prince was awe-inspiring and the action of the game was absolutely enthralling to me) i went upstairs to go to sleep, to prepare for class the next day. then came the trouble.
the thing with dxm is, it's a dissociative anesthetic more or less (which would account for the intense body high and impaired physical movement), removing one from one's body, not unlike ketamine. it also tends towards more intense, more annihilistic trips than shrooms or acid, so it's not for the faint of heart. additionally, it's pretty fucking dangerous, especially when administered in the adolescent fashion i opted for: boxes of coricidin hbp cough medicine. kids die from the shit.
so anyway, i lie in bed following the game, and feeling restless decided to go on the interweb. huge mistake! i went to webmd to learn more about the effects of dxm on the body and learned all the aforementioned stuff, plus the fact that it eats holes in your brain called olney's lesions, like nitrous.
shaken by the news, i decided to commit my mind and body to falling asleep. Immediately, i was having trouble with the mission. not unlike dmt, the dxm trip involves intense closed eye visuals, with your brain maintaining the after image with incredible clarity when you close your eyes. in fact the visuals are so intense that one night, during a trip, i put my ipod in front of my closed eyes and the dulled illumination translated into an image of earth's albedo, earth's reflection from space, and the body high made it feel as though i was orbitting the big blue bitch goddess.
but kids, that's the cold end of this shit, and this night, the twee hours of the morning following super bowl xli or whatever it is, i was dealing with the white heat of a drug comedown. i began hearing voices, something i'd experienced following severe coke binges a number of times, but this coupled with closed eye visuals was a truly terrifying thing.
i saw the image of this singular, terrifying electronic eye, a pupil constantly interrogating my soul. fucking horrific stuff. pushing that image out of my mind, i thought i was out of the woods. not yet. the voices intensified and i began to see the image of my friend maggie's face, first elated, then screaming in anguish whenever i closed my eyes. add to this the fact that the front of my head hurt, like i had a concussion. i started to worry about olney's lesions, and i was seriously concerned about brain damage and the problem of falling asleep with a concussion (look it up).
calming mental maggie down, it was lights out. i awoke the next day, two hours after the beginning of my first class. i couldn't move. class was not happening. figured i'd rest it off and get at it tomorrow. hope's a wonderful thing, hope's a dangerous thing.
within the hour, i began to feel some of the horror of the previous night, seeing things, hearing shit, and my pulse was sky high, breathing shallow. i was rather convinced i was dying. much more convinced than i was during my last epic bender. i mean, in the life of an addict, this sensation isn't an abnormal one, but this was something i'd never experienced before. now i'm not afraid of death. like any visionary philosopher worth a damn, i actually look forward to it, as it is life's greatest mystery, our harrowing common constant. but to die like this, like a fucking dog in my room, asphyxiated in boxers, face down by the window. no thanks buddy. convinced my nervous system was shutting down respiratory operations and fighting off intermittent blackouts, i picked up my cell. i had a decision to make: call 911 and let the cat out of the proverbial bag, or stay up here and keep my mouth shut, do the dog thing.
called 911. they came, had no idea what dxm even was. checked me out. told me my lungs were clear, that i was having a severe panic attack. i was somewhat comforted by this, but as they didn't know what dxm was, how could they tell whether i was having some sort of episode or not. the ambu pulled off with a jerk and i was back in the house, crying my eyes out at the transpirations of the last 48. now comes the revelation, the admittances, the apologies and the search for "help"
and here we are. within a week, i'd signed myself up for partners in recovery, located in sheppard pratt, baltimore's big mental health institution. tough decision, but it was so necessary at the time that i didn't really consider the realities of what was happening.
sat down in that waiting room, blustery late winter air tearing through the automatic doors every so often. loud black women at the desk not making me feel good about where i am. i'll read this photography magazine. i like photography right. gorgeous blond in a velour tracksuit comes out of nowhere and sidles up to the desk. her voice is faint and her posture is one of reluctant defeat. she's in for methadone maintenance.
the admissions director is my friend/former coworker ryan's aunt. she admits it's awkward, and i agree, but only because ryan's gay and i wonder if she assumes that i am as well on account of me being good friends with him. stop being ridiculous.
on to the assessment, the priciest part of the morning. pair of interns sit down at a somewhat dated computer, and open up an even more dated program, whose sole intent is to catalog the horrific depths of my addiction. i'm asked a myriad of questions, what drugs i've used, which i've used the most, when i started using them, how often, when was the last time, any emotional or physical trauma, are you satisfied with your life at this point, tell me about your friends, how have your relationships gone, parents, suicide attempts, etc., etc., etc. all i can think about as i mindlessly, but truthfully, answer the questions is the distinction. the distinction between the kind of person sitting at that computer, and the kind of person sitting under that lamp, at the table, twiddling sweaty thumbs and staring at the floor.
so the first treatment is scheduled for the coming friday. intensive outpatient.
of course this is the core of the tale, most significantly because my insurance lapsed (or some other bullshit of that nature) and my treatment was cut in half. somewhat discouraged by this matter of American circumstance, this first treatment would be my last. surely, a lot of my absenteeism from the 3hr, 3 times a week meetings can be chalked up to my cowardice. i mean, i can surely admit, that, at my core, like most men, i am a coward when it comes to certain things, particularly things involving introspection and righting my wrongs.
i arrived at that first treatment 10 min late, but they still hadn't started. about twenty people, old and young, 50/50 men and women. i'm the only black; this is towson after all (again look it up). i sit down. happen to be wearing a pink floyd tee with a ramones hoodie (i know, absolutely trite, but whatev), and my counselor (hell of a guy) takes notice. i start to chat him up about dee dee ramone's brief rap career ("of course i can't rap, i'm not a negro") and the upcoming tribute album to floyd founder syd barrett. impressed to find out that i'm not a dilletante, the counselor and i, along with some of the younger members discuss music, favorite guitars (his: any strat, mine: danelectro longhorn bass). hell, a few of the kids and i even discuss getting together to jam, and some of them went to one of my rival high schools.
but this all a farce, and i know it. no matter how you spin it, this shit is uncomfortable. following the daily inventory, during which each member admits that he/she is an alcoholic/addict and admits to their desire to use and what they plan to do to fix it, the graduates stand up and give speeches. the one character that stood out in my mind was undoubtedly Bill, a tall, spritely construction worker type, who smilingly admitted that he'd kept a hundred dollar bill in his pocket for 3 weeks, something that would've been impossible during the bad old days. i could certainly relate, then and now, as money like that disappears in an instant, sometimes when you're not even aware of it.
with the graduates gone, the conversation turned to personal concerns and questions, during which i zoned out, maybe stared at some tits, did some math in my head and composed some music. i sat silently as the regulars joked and argued, back and forth, anecdotes about how fucking tough it is to get/stay clean.
following a group cig break (despite the fact that sheppard pratt is a smoke free campus), we went back inside for group therapy, a segment more in line with the tv iteration of rehab. there were houselights and the chairs were arranged in an open oval rather than the kansas city typewriter set up. the counselor used his inside voice and everyone seemed calm; the floor was entirely open. my groupmates discussed their abandonment by friends and families upon revelation of their addictions; realizing exactly what they were like wasted by observing friends while sober; finding alternative behaviors (like exercise), but then becoming addicted to them as well (called cross-dependency, rather dangerous).
again i sat in silence, affirmed by the fact that others knew exactly what i was going through. a non-judgemental environment, but i still didn't say much. just laughed at the jokes that were told, stared at more tits, listened empathically and relished in the comfort of the environ.
the end is near. we all stand up in our dimmed sanctuary, and the others motion for me to hold hands. now this isn't a sappy group of characters, but things start to turn all family channel. we say the lord's prayer, which i don't participate in, as i don't know it, and i'm an atheist.
i left that night feeling as though my heart had been pulled from my chest. everything and everyone i'd held dear seemed to betray me, and it seemed as though i would literally have to start life over again. there was a rapture concert that night. i didn't go, for fear that i would booze heavily and do something stupid, as the most idiotic, most expensive, most embarrassing, most dangerous, and most hurtful things i've ever done were undertaken while i was drunk/stoned/mashed/yayed out of my mind.
but alas, that saturday would mark the beginning, a perfect example of man's flawed nature: his flair for contradiction. watching late night tv alone that weekend, i was bombarded by beer ads, weed humor, and various images of "scenes." being dichotomous as i am, belligerent kasai began to rationalize that there was no way in hell i could ever go to a concert or bar or club without boozing, and having one or two drinks wouldn't be possible either. what's the fucken fun in that?
yeah, this kasai is the one responsible for the stuff that led to the creation of this story. he's a fun guy, a real blast, but an absolute scumbag hellraiser derelict. you have to watch out for him. as weeks went on and flu, snow, and catatonic depression led to skipping a number of treatment sessions, belligerent kasai began to once again overpower sensible kasai. by the first week of march, i was already boozing and unbelievably, eating dxm again.
so you see, this is the gist of the thing. a sense of doom, of a dissociative perspective that strips me of all control. during my brief moment of clarity, i began to consider the realities of finding a wife, having kids, buying a home, and chaining myself to a desk for a respectable sum of money. twelve years of private education dictates that i should pursue these things diligently and without apology. yet belligerent kasai can't stand to think of the emotional prison presented by this suit and tie, summer house nightmare.
live rich, die broke. that's the motto this guy flies on his flag, underneath a jolly roger with a cock in his mouth and cocaine in his bony nostrils. it's all comin back now baby, and with a plan to move to nyc with timemachine underway, the true battle has yet to begin.
but for my detractors, known and unknown, i will say this. my personal ethos of beasting out at all hours of the day and night, of more good times at any cost, no longer revolves solely around substance abuse. naw, see, it's like autocross and highway roll-ons on italian superbikes and layin models and leanin throttles and big game hunting and all that jazz now. the former now merely a complement for the latter i guess. yeah it's all gone pete tong, but like the movie poster for Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift states, "If You Ain't Outta Control, You Ain't In Control!" on the streets of Tokyo, speed needs no translation.
conformist's choice... identify yourself, cuz there's been a lot of enemies at the gates and i won't fall for their tomfoolery more than twice, got a vice grip on life and i refuse to let them fuck up my shine. put it there buddy. i was raised by vipers that'd spit in your eye as soon as look at cha, bit me about the face (repeatedly) when i was an infant to make me into a real man. no water in the desert, no rest for the weary and no heartbeat in this chest cavity, just pure fucken fire, got it? an eternal joyride that no one's troubling themselves with lately. they say the universe has no edge but i've seen it, been there, done that, cowabunga dudes, messed me up real bad though. because now, like right now, i know i can't die, know that i cannot be fazed by earthly delights and diamond nights with emerald eyed girls. i'm here for my thrills, so leave the pills under the doormat. i get paid next friday, can't wait to live life my way.