“I think I could stand anything, any suffering, only to be able to say and to repeat to myself every moment, ‘I exist.’ In thousands of agonies — I exist. I’m tormented on the rack — but I exist!”
It’s no secret, I absolutely love Fyodor and his Russian cruel look at humanity and people in general. It’s an extremely refreshing read, at least for me, in a world of over glamorized lifestyles of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Not all of us can relate to such things, and be it as it may, I’m a much more simplistic person. I need something to relate to, I need something that I have something in common with, I need something that resonates with the psychology of my soul. Shades of Grey or whatever the fuck it was called does nothing for me, and I sort of pity the individual that needs to read something like that to be amused in life. I’m a deeper sort of being, perhaps a bit heavy on drinking at times, but I’d rather have a bourbon and read Russian novels than be submerged in a fiction that glorifies decadence and lack of moral compass. (Sure, I’m a fan of Hunter S. Thompsons work, which is an illumination of all of those things, but it was more based on personal experience, glorified at times, but this man actually lived like that.)
That’s exactly why when I woke up this morning I focused on three things:
- I wanted an egg, just one, and I hate eggs
- I wanted bourbon and ginger tea, I had a belly ache
- I wanted to read something raw, something that would distract me
Truth be told, I had a rattling evening and needed to turn to something to alleviate my churning mind. This same mind would reel at the aspect of the evening last night, but we all evolve. In a chaotic mindset, the world is constantly coming to an end, everything is the worst case scenario, everything is shitty, your life sucks. You’re never good enough, you’re never attractive enough, you impress nobody. I lived decades like this, and proudly the high water mark broke and suddenly rolled back, surprisingly without medication or booze. I rolled along in the backseat of my car (although, I’m not even sure who it actually belongs to anymore, everyone drives it but me) looking out the window and chatting via messenger with someone I knew from middle school.
Fucking Middle School, the rash on my ass that I had to sustain for two years. I remember crying as my mom drove me to my first day. That’s where I became broken, that’s where my mind broke. It was all about me though, I was so self absorbed I never put things into a broader perspective. Certainly my mom didn’t want to see me cry, but she had no choice, certainly I didn’t want to go to a scary new school, and most certainly my sister didn’t either. I was too involved in my own head to take into account the other people that were hurting. They got over it, I turned it into certain varieties of addiction and disease. Some say mental disorders aren’t really diseases, that you should just “think yourself out of it”. Fuck you, I say. Just like someone contracts syphilis, people can contract mental diseases. It’s a circumstantial thing.
Here’s the thing though, I survived. I’m not sure how, but I survived. I still “exist”. This is why that line from The Brothers Karamazov has always resonated with me (or, at least since I read it for the first time. Trials and tribulations of a set of siblings and their parents. Not to drag it out, but it involves bar fights, love triangles, school kids getting picked on, pretty much my life growing up. I survived, I still exist, but for the longest time I thought I was the only one that suffered, I was the only one that had this rough start. For some reason, this book, written back centuries plus ago made me realize that life has always been shitty. Siblings feud, bar fights happen, but life goes on.
This is what woke me up last night, a total stranger, only knowing them from middle school and by chance Facebook brought us together as “friends” had a similarly shitty lifestyle in middle school. Going into middle school I thought I was the bottom of the barrel, scourge of the earth, I didn’t realize I wasn’t alone. Perhaps it was the teenage emotions kicking in at the time, or just the realization that I wasn’t like most everyone else, it weighed heavily on me at that time. It was obvious, but therapy wasn’t really in the cards, hell, I don’t recall even going to the dentist.
“Red shoelaces, thanks.”
I didn’t really get thrown into a rational mindset about the entire situation until I found myself sitting at a bar in Atlanta watching a woman who had to be about 50 dance in front of me on a stage wearing nothing but a half shirt pulled up above her shoulders and some ridiculously ugly heeled boots.
Nothing else. Period. It was a full frontal and rear experience. I wanted to look away in shame for this woman, but at the same time there was a sense of compassion that led me to cheer her on. If that’s all you’ve got to hold onto is dancing nude infront of a bunch of people drinking beer in a very, VERY dark basement bar, well, you need some support. For all the times I’ve needed support and people have overlooked it, I sympathized. She pretended to be having a good time, doing her “job” but there was a certain amount of pain in her eyes. Maybe she got forced to go to a scary new middle school, maybe she had to go through a divorce, maybe she got sexually assaulted by a family member. Who knows, we all bleed. She was existing, and I was proud of her for it.
I don’t say it often, especially of people in that situation doing something like that for a living, but I wish I could be her. I wish I could throw my insecurities of my body aside and dance naked, however, I have a hard time even getting in the shower, let alone prancing naked. I dated a guy that whenever I was out of line would say “I dated a stripper, she was hot”, which would always lead me towards self hate and shame. After seeing this stripper, well, to each their own.
The circle comes around and I can’t help but ponder on life and it’s little qualms. If I were still severely anorexic, where would I be now, would it be better off than drinking? If I hadn’t loved my dad more than my mom, would my sister still talk to me? If I succumbed to modern literature would I be as deep as I am now?
All things that absolutely torment me, that coupled with social media. Seeing a post mentioning how “adorable” my little sisters engagement announcement cards put me in a funk. I thought of that stripper, wondering if she had a sister, and if they got along. I’m not receiving an announcement, and I’m okay with that. I see a post about how happy my mom is in her new home, which I didn’t know about until she was already moving. I am an island, but I exist.
“Halloween masks, Easter baskets, a Christmas Tree.”
I’m tired of “existing” trying to fulfill other peoples parameters. As my new “friend” from middle school asked me last night “are you a good person when people aren’t around.” The answer is yes, I will hurt nobody but myself intentionally. As in the Fyodor book, the brothers ended up hurting each other unintentionally, which in fact broke the family. Living a “pretend” lifestyle will do nothing but slaughter your attempt at actually existing. You’re on false pretenses. There isn’t a Halloween. You are not the mask you wear. There is not an Easter Bunny, those baskets don’t make you a better person. Don’t get me started on the brutal massacre of innocent Fir trees for that ridiculous celebration people call Christmas.
Thing is, I’m jealous. I’m jealous of my sister. I want to have “adorable” announcements. I want to have that house on a cul-de-sac with grass and a sidewalk, I want to have squabbles over dirty socks on the floor and why it took so long to go get a gallon of milk. I’m jealous, and this causes resentment.
However, as I am right now, I could have cute announcements and a big wedding, but it wouldn’t make me happy, because I would be existing in a reality that is meant to impress others. I could have that house, but for whom, do I need all that room or will I just be existing in the exceptions of someone else? My projected jealously prevails, but I’m go on with life. Living in a shadow of jealously, be it from a sibling, a stripper, or a sports car, it’s no way to live life.
“Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.”
I’m never going to be special. I eat junk food, I drink beer, i enjoy psychedelic music. None of these things will make me a super model, but fuck it, I exist.
“Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.”
Hunter S. Thompson
I’ll make it short and sweet.
Luck is an intuitive instinct that nothing is going to happen to you, and when it does, it will be in your favor. Webster might define it as something a little different, but in modern day speak, it’s a bit more simplistic. Luck is when you go out on a day that the weather calls for rain without an umbrella, you drive with tires that are too bald on that same rainy day, you haven’t slept well in a week a feel drowsy but drive anyways on that same day, you broke up with your girlfriend and keep thinking about it on that same rainy day. Luck will ride you through, right?
Most of the time, yes. There will come a time that your luck will run out. Most of us make decisions depending on survival, such as having to get to work even though you don’t have good tires and you’re at risk of hydroplaning, yet you drive anyways, it’s survival. You have to have a job in order to survive, to provide your home with shelter and food. Prioritization over practicality takes over and that’s where luck comes in. I’ll raise my hand and say that I’m the most guilty of “living on luck” than anybody else. My luck has run out several times, but I keep going.
Except, maybe, Charles Bukowski, whom wrote a book about it. It was pretty much an accumulation of raw poetry and notes about gambling with life, also known as living on luck. This coming from the guy that lived out most of his life chasing a dream, but being drowned in a pool of booze and easy women. If anything, that’s disaster in it’s own form. Although he was slap dab in the middle of disaster, it still took a bit of luck. How did he know that one of those trashy women weren’t going to drug him and take his last five bucks in his pocket? He was a lucky bastard. He escaped death from over-drinking and overall, over decadence that he could never afford.
He skipped out on that lifestyle at the age of 49 and took a big bite out of the sandwich of luck by leaving his stable job to chase his dream of being a full time writer.
“regret is mostly caused by not having done anything.”
Sometimes you just have to make a decision, even if you already know it’s a bad one. I will say, there are lots of people out there that have made bad decisions and I feel no sympathy for them. There are certain things that you need to do, without wavering. You need to brush your teeth, if you don’t, and they fall out. I feel no sympathy. If you run out of gas, although the needle read empty for miles, I feel no sympathy. If you drive without insurance and wreck your car into another car and are liable for not only your car, but the other as well, I feel no sympathy. You’re living on luck.
You’ll be lucky if your teeth don’t fall out.
You’ll be lucky if you coast into an conveniently places fuel stop.
You’ll be lucky if nobody pulls out in front of you.
Paranoia is one thing, total disregard of all bad things that can happen to you is another thing. Paranoia is the opposite of luck.
On the other hand, luck is a very, VERY good thing. You’ll never get anywhere unless you take chances. Bukowski took his life in a different direction and decided to live on luck and do something different full time. I lived on luck and traveled across country to chase a dream, living on luck on so many different levels. My friend traveled to Washington to chase his dream on the chance that it was going to work out for him, living on luck.
Luck, overlapping talent, equals success. That’s exactly why you don’t win the lottery. Luck by itself only opens you to vulnerability, however, luck coupled with talent will actually get you someplace. My friend was extremely talented at what he did, however, his luck was that there wasn’t someone more talented than he to take that position. He could have stayed complacent and not even tried, but he “lucked out” to find the position and went for it.
Luck, on the other hand can bite you in the ass. Take for instance an uninsured friend of mine that wrecked his truck into a guardrail. His luck ran out in a few ways. He got ticketed, his truck wasn’t able to get fixed and he lost his privileged to drive. There’s a bit BUT here. If the guardrail wasn’t there, he would have gone clear off the side of a mountain, into a tree, into another tree, flipped and died. So, in the grand scheme of things luck can be a pro, however, when it runs out, you’re sort of screwed. In his case, if he actually had insurance, would that assure him that the guardrail would actually be there? Cosmically, just because you have an insurance policy on your body, car, house, or even cell phone, does that eliminate it from harm, or are all of these things just subjected to luck?
I’ve been living on luck for so long, I can’t even remember when this psychological mindset overtook me. I think we’re all living on luck in some way, shape, or form. If you look at your day to day processes, how many things would change if you didn’t produce a safety net or plan? Could you live recklessly? Are you confident enough in yourself that you won’t need an overpriced health insurance policy, or are you afraid you’re going to come down with swine flu that is going to cost you multiple thousands of dollars to treat? Are you willing to live on luck?
I did not proof read to, well, live on the luck that everything is spelled properly.
Pictured below is my friend that lived on the luck that he was going to rock his job across the country, which he did. His luck was with him, mine was not.
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
I sat next to an old black man at the bar the other day and had a very enlightening conversation about suits. Suits being a metaphor for sex, how that turned into the conversation is beyond me. He referred to always having that old suit that never lets you down, that you keep it hanging in the closet, just in case you have to use it. Then there are some of those suits that get all full of holes and you have to patch them together. Then there are some that just don’t fit right and give them away to Goodwill. Some days I feel like a suit full of hole, but that doesn’t get me down, I mend fairly well. I’d like to think my suit will be remembered long after I’m done wearing it.
As for the old man, he cracked me up, but I couldn’t help but think “damn he’s old.” He got up to leave, and I wondered how much longer he was going to live for, he was that old. I wondered if that was the last time I would see him or not. I didn’t even know the old timers name, but I still feel a sort of sadness thinking about it. It put me in a sort of dark place. Aren’t we all going to die anyways? I’ve always heard some sort of saying along the lines of “you only die if you stop living.” Given his personality, I’m guessing he’s going to go on living for a long time. Does he know that though, has he ever really thought about it? Is he afraid of it?
I’ve been around a broad spectrum of people, and it seems that those who really devote their lives to living instead of being afraid of death get along with me more than those paranoid of everything. I once dated a guy that wouldn’t wear deodorant for fear that the aluminum or something or other in it would give him cancer. He stunk, especially in the summertime after working outside all day, we’d go out somewhere and I’d be embarrassed because even after a shower he had a certain funk that the whole world could smell. It didn’t keep me from staying with him though, I accepted the fact that he believed the deodorant was going to kill him.
Fast forward eight years, he died, not from the scary deodorant, but something else. He spent all that time afraid of something that didn’t kill him. That makes me wonder about some of the choices that we all make regarding how we approach life. I can’t say I’m afraid of much, snakes, bread, and vaseline. All very unreasonable fears, but I’m not so afraid of them because they’re going to kill me, only because somehow I’ve gotten a very negative connotation with them. Come to think of it, I think the only thing that can actually kill me is me. I’m like a cockroach.
I understand the conscience effort that people make in their day to day lives to prolong their time on earth by decision making. What influences us to make those decisions in the first place. Why did that old timer next to me at the bar have a burger and onion rings but leave two? Why don’t I like bread? Who told the ex that deodorant will kill him by giving him cancer of the arm pit?
“Garbage in, garbage out.”
A new way of thinking, in the 21st century at least, is to peer into the media and be influenced by others think, say, or do. Let’s put it in perspective using something we can all understand – rocks. (I don’t like to brag, but I have an awesome rock collection). We can get even more technical and use geological terms:
Uniformitarianism – Pretty much the theory that actions in the past creates the current state of things. In a simple way, the present is a key to the past.
Catastrophicism – Bad shit happened to the earth, that’s what formed what we now enjoy in nature.
Our selves, our souls, our behaviors are all based on something, we don’t just happen, just like rocks don’t just happen. The earth didn’t just happen, there has to be a reason. What influences us nowadays isn’t the same as it used to be, we are prone to looks for catastrophes that will influence what we do. The old saying “history repeats itself” is sort of obsolete in this modern society, with most of our news coming from the internet being written by got knows who, how are we to know what to believe? We focus on all the bad shit and form our decisions on the bad things that are out to get us.
YouTube is a huge proponent of modern day Catastrophicism. Anybody and their inbred brother can go on and make a video, and yes, I’ve made videos, but who’s to say that some of these people are credible enough to believe. The quantity of people out there making videos to either make you hate something or someone is ridiculous. When did society get so hateful, and why, pray tell, do they feel like they need to influence others to think the same as they do. Just because you’ve got internet access and are able to shoot a ridiculous film while you’re walking around blathering about mindless dribble does not make you qualified to influence others opinions. Society has become too influenced by what others think as opposed to what we’re supposed to do.
How did people survive before all this? How did they make decisions? Nature, that’s how. We all have carnal needs for food, clothing, shelter, but shouldn’t those things be chosen by what we feel we need? Food videos crack me up, trying to lead a cleaner, healthier lifestyle? Get rid of everything that actually tastes good. I can promise you if there are videos out there telling me that I was going to die because I eat red meat and drink beer, I’d probably just flip the bird and tell them “don’t tell me what to do.” People have been eating red meat for centuries, and there hasn’t been a global die off of people.
Maybe we should all spend more time forming ourselves into who we really want to be instead of being influenced by what other people are telling us. Going back to those rocks, they formed due to nature being nature, dinosaurs did their thing (sad that they had to go, but I see no way we could coexist) without being told how to be dinosaurs. I have a very firm policy of I won’t tell you what to do if you don’t tell me what to do. The more you try to push something on me, the more I will ignore you. I like to figure stuff out myself and let nature be my guide.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
Hunter S Thompson
I’m not telling you what to do, but life is a lot more peaceful after I quit taking everything so seriously. I’m going to continue to drink good beer, have lots of sex, and eat cheeseburgers all of which could probably kill me, but at least I’ll die with a smile on my face.
“There are days when I am haunted by a feeling that is blacker than the blackest melancholy. I have a contempt for humanity. I despise the people I have been fated to call my contemporaries. I feel suffocated by their filthy breath.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti Christ
Politics make me sick, and to be honest, I just learned the other day what “left” and “right” meant. I’ve heard to term for years, and never really cared enough to look into what it meant and who it pertained to. For this, I feel my ignorance was bliss. I would glance right over articles on the news and on social media feeds that had even the slightest amount of opinion related. Mostly because I didn’t understand it, and didn’t want to. Humanity, and what the world has become, terrifies me. Politics, government, news feeds are starting to scare me. I feel a sick sense of paranoia on this rainy morning in South Carolina.
I glance in the corner and see Zips, lucky little bastard. He doesn’t have to worry about having an opinion on anything, but then again, he’s an inanimate object. I like to pretend that I too am an inanimate object, being devoid of needing to have feelings or opinions on anything. This practice of burying my head in the sand has pretty much made me desensitized to current events on a broader spectrum. The news really doesn’t exist to me, except when they post mugshots on the local news channels app. What can I say, I’m more entertained by people like that than I am people arguing on television, or comment sections.
I broke that this morning and actually took up a conversation on a semi-political comment and felt disgusted with myself in regards to the topic, and why it was bothering me in the first place. I can barely help myself let alone carry other peoples problems on my shoulders, but this struck me, and my voice, albeit silent of opinion, rang out like the five o’clock whistle, and I went on a rant. (Me, rant? Really!)
Brief summary of topic
Ole Miss was having a Greek something or other for the weekend.
Young man eats a banana, throws peel in a tree, goes about his day.
The university goes into a clamor over the concept that it could have been a racial thing.
Words were used in the media like “hysteria”.
Young man who tossed the banana peel couldn’t find a garbage can.
Greek event cancels and news reports certain students “frightened”.
Let me clue you into where this came from in the first place, the title of the original article was a little misleading and although, like I said, I normally abstain from delving into matters like those, I really honestly thought it was going to be a funny article, something like from The Onion or something. The first few comments on the post were sort of humorous and curious too, why would anyone be offended by a banana peel. It took me a moment, but I figured it out on my own and shook my head and immediately though of these lyrics:
“Smokin’ banana peels in between meals
I was all pumped up about the iron
Let’s all pray get down and kneel”
The Dead Milkmen
To be fair, I’ve never smoked banana peels, nor have I been offended at piece of rubbish that was improperly placed in a tree. The young man, actually, had a good idea to place it in a tree. If watching cartoons growing up did for me what it probably did to a whole generation, people can seriously get hurt if they slip and fall on a banana peel. It’s a classic accident, and although it’s probably NOT going to make you fall on your ass, it could totally fuck up a good pair of shoes. This too, if it were on the ground, and you’ve been to a college campus lately, most kids don’t look where the hell they’re going, they’re burying in the phone. This kid is really a hero in my book, and I think you’d have to be smoking something to be offended by it.
Historically bananas were used to infer a lesser race. Something to do with monkeys or some shit, didn’t we all come from monkeys, or cavemen or some shit. Should that not offend people of all colors. I’m a strong believer of evolution, and historically there was a lot of ridiculous shit people did to offend what they might deem as a lesser race.
“I always thought bananas were historically used to make banana pudding.”
Some guy on Fox News (again, I have no idea what way he “leans” but that was some pretty funny shit right there.)
Should I be offended if somebody leaves cheese on my doorstep because I’m from Wisconsin? No, I’ll pick that shit up and eat it, provided it’s not American Cheese….I hate American Cheese. Is it okay to even say that, or am I going to get pegged and an terrorist? Could unintentionally someone cut someone else off in traffic and the cut offed person take it personal because the kind of car he’s driving? It can get absolutely dark if you start thinking about it, and after some pondering (I have been out of work for two days and have had a lot of time to think about stuff) and it put me in a black melancholy like Nietzche spoke of in The Anti Christ.
(side note, lots of people put a negative eye on this book and assume that it’s all about the phrase “God is Dead” but it’s really more about society and how it becomes sheeple)
But that would take actual thought, and sadly, our not just nation, but world has become so wrapped up in this, what I like to “clublike mentality”. Everybody wants to be a part of something and participate in something. It’s easy to get wrapped up into a clublike mentality, and it’s been this way for centuries. Think of the need to be a part of something back during the world wars. If you weren’t a German you were a Jew, and nowadays it has become if you’re not black you are white. If you’re not mexican you’re citizen. Always, in my mind, it’s like a dichotomy that I don’t understand.
I love everybody, except for ONE person, and of course I haven’t met everybody, I don’t feel the need I have to in order to love everybody. I don’t understand what “race” is, to me it’s something that you do in cars, not people. I don’t understand borders, really don’t understand government, other than I’ve been flying under the radar for quite some time now. Of course, in the super paranoid population, some say they’re watching you all the time. Fuck, I sure hope I entertain them. I wouldn’t want to disappoint. Getting off topic, but pulling it back together here…when I go into my black space of melancholy I tend to turn up Radiohead and crack a beer, always the same record, never the same beer.
“Are you such a dreamer? To put the world to rights? I’ll stay home forever Where two & two always makes up five.”
And this video sums it up perfectly, the media forced dichotomy of classes, races, government regulation and the need to be in a club.
It’s sort of reminds me of the concept of Pink Floyds Animals album, but see, we’re still facing the same damn drama. I’ve only dug into one news story and I’m already over being political.
I’ll stick to trying to “Save The Bees”, it’ll be more productive than being a whiny butt over something stupid. Haters are going to hate, which makes you hate them back. Just remember, that amazing quote that I love from Richard Nixon (I know, I know)
“Remember, always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.”
With the mentality that is carrying on right now for hate of other people and other races and other countries we’re bound to destroy ourselves. I don’t accept that as an option, I’ll go back to watching cat videos, falling down and busting my face, and every once in a while writing something on this useless blog.
“Wither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night.”
Back in South Carolina, where the bugs make noise 24/7 and the summer heat will cleanse the crap out of you by way of sweat. It’s a bittersweet return. Although the circumstances could have been better, I pushed myself as far as was safe out in Oregon. I loved Oregon, but at the same time I despised it. You want to talk about feeling out of place, have an odd Midwestern/Southern accent and try to pump your own gas. You will get frowned upon and life will get complicated. I just want to pump my own gas, damn it.
Back in South Carolina I’ve found gainful employment, I’ve got a roof over my head, and I’ve constantly have food in my belly. I’m safe here, although it’s not an exotic location like, well, Portland, it’s still pretty desirable. We’ve got mountains here, we’ve got a lake or two (really, I think there might be like two lakes) and the coast is down there (if you like to get eaten by sharks). Yes, I’m here, hacking away at the keys safely in Piedmont, SC, where nothing happens except crimes and an occasional cow tipping. My privilege of driving has been taken from me and I’m grounded from solo adventuring, thus turning “The Adventures Of Nikki Weed” into “Nikki Rants From Her Computer Sitting Outside Getting Molested By Flies”. I’m okay with that, really.
To be honest, I’ve been in motion since I got my first car (a basketcase 1990 Chevy Cavalier, which, every time you closed the door a new chunk of rust came off). At first I was a bit put off by the car, and might have said some mean things to my parents who bought it for me, and I feel badly for that. I apologize, however, I don’t think any of my parents read this, so it’s more of a band-aid for my own soul. Once I was out, solo, in that basketcase, I realized the world is so much bigger than where you are at that current time. I loved that car, only for the freedom it gave me. I got T-Boned in that car by a van going 50 mph in the drivers side door and walked away from it. I had an awful concussion, but the car was still able to drive (with a little help from a hammer and some washers behind the wheel to space the tire so it wouldn’t rub the body work). My dad and I were able to drive it to it’s final resting place about 10 miles away.
I was crippled. No car. No go.
I couldn’t go and drive around until I got tired when I had insomnia.
I couldn’t go through drive thru windows.
I couldn’t spy on the activities of the boyfriend at any given time. l
This lasted less than a week, and I feel it was one of the most painful times in my life. I missed being free – I felt like I had been put in a prison of the mind. That got fixed, quickly, by my Dad. He gave me his car, only because he saw the despair that I was facing not being able to go. It was an odd exchange. There was a pile of mulch, a three wheeler Honda, a new to me Nissan Stanza (which I will stick to being my favorite car), and beer. We had a full blown party there at the nursery I worked at, until the boss showed up. Simply put he said “Ron, get your truck off the pile of mulch, Debbie, get your three wheeler out of the mud, and for christsakes, Nikki, take that white thing and get out of here.”
I kept my job, but it was sort of funny. Every time I saw my boss, he’d shake his head and chuckle. It was a good job, but my dumb ass moved to South Carolina (by then I had gotten a different car, a 1997 Accent that had been totaled, but with 300 of parts and paint, it was resurrected as the “Purple Punk Mobile”. It was sort of an iconic car, fenders didn’t match, it was held together with bailing wire, hood pins, and toilet piping. It was so much more of a basketcase, but it was mine. No payments, no loans, nobody to pay monthly for something that I probably couldn’t afford. This car took me back and forth to Wisconsin more times than I can count, to the coast more times than I can count, and certainly back and forth to work daily. There was a time that my husband and I had only one car, the Purple Punk Mobile, and it did double duty, and my sister was our driver. She’d drive us all over the damn place. I’m proud of her. She put up with both of us.
“America… just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.”
Hunter S. Thompson
I was embarrassed driving the purple car after the occasion that the hood latch failed going down the interstate and shattered the windshield and the only way we could keep the hood down was hood pins. Full blown race car hood pins, on a freaking Accent. There was a point that the car wasn’t going to cut it anymore and, well, heat would be nice in the winter, I snagged a car from a “buy here, pay here” place. (side note, SMH at this). What seemed to be a decent car, except for the fact that the interior looked like a dog on crack was allowed in there for an extended period of time. “The Onion” came to be my adventure machine.
The Onion did some cool things, coolest was toting eight people across Atlanta from one concert to another and those in the back seat got attacked by fire ants. The Onion never made it to Wisconsin, but it and I did some decent adventures. It wasn’t new, it wasn’t fancy, it was just a grocery going machine. It almost killed me a few times, stalling in the middle of an intersection, stalling in traffic, stalling just about. It was another basketcase.
I remember coming home in tears, expressing to my guy at the time “it tried to kill me again.” He took to driving The Onion, to save me from death, and let me drive his car, the E-82. He lasted one day with The Onion and upon arriving home said “It’s got to go.”
i let it go, I really didn’t like it anyways. I was in a safe financial position and could get pretty much whatever I wanted…But it wasn’t that easy. Being in the upstate it seemed like everyone had BMW’s everybody had relatives that had BMW cars and I personally had never been in a situation to have one. My need to fit in sort of overtook my need for practicality. I had traveled states away to look at cars that fit my needs, but in the end, at a bar (The Vortex in Atlanta) I broke down and said “Just give me your car.” Win win situation, he didn’t have to pay for it anymore, AND, he still got to drive it.” With that, the E-82 was mine. On a napkin there at the bar, we scribbled something along the lines of “It’s mine now.” It was great.
And when I had it, I felt like I was better than anyone else on the road. Something about the BMW marque made me superior. It messed with my head. Neither of my parents ever came from an upbringing of money or luxury. We always had work trucks and muscle cars…power over luxury. A dark time in my life was spent when I felt better than my family for driving that BMW. It got awarded the title of “The Tard”. Much less glamorous than “The Onion”. He was a tard, and that’s a compliment for anything else assimilated with the word “Tard”.
Guy at the time and I broke up, and I kept “The Tard”, he was mine, married to a freaking car that decided that it wanted to spew oil at 100,988 miles and have an irregular hiccup once in a while that would kill the entire power train. There was a time that I had to coast down a hill until it decided it was okay to turn back on. Perhaps it was a sort of self preservation tactic, but still, it was pretty inconvenient. The Tard died, I killed him. I ran him into a Jersey barrier going maybe 60 mph….keep in mind the Jersey barrier was on the opposing side of the road, and I had my dad in the car. We very easily could have been thrown off a mountain, and since that barrier was there, the only thing we lost was a car.
Taking the car to an insurance approved shop, we got the “Yikes” approach. Taking it to an alignment shop, we got an even bigger “Yikes.” He had to go. I had an E-24 in the lurks, but that wasn’t nearly tight enough to be a daily driver. I had to go find a new car. My mind was wrapped around trying to be something I really am not, a person that is judged by what I drive.
“I can relax with bums because I am a bum. I don’t like laws, morals, religions, rules. I don’t like to be shaped by society.”
I drove the haggard and broken E-82 around for an entire weekend, taking my man friends son to a car show and the movies. I drove down the interstate going 80 without trouble, but once I got to work I looked at the pathetic machine I was driving around. My pride was way too stout for that. I needed something better. I needed newer. I needed things that at the time I really couldn’t afford nor need. I’d be much better with The Onion than I would be with the decision I made.
I am a bum, much like Bukowski said. I’m really not a high society debutante, and I am certainly not BMW worthy. Although, I will say, it was a decent drive, it didn’t really equivocate to pleasure vs. dollars. I drove around Greenville wanting one thing. I wanted a red coupe with a manual, and at that time I didn’t care if it was a Ford or a Kia.
Believe it or not, the only car I found with a manual, and a coupe, and red, was a Honda Civic. What a punch in the gut. Really. I had excellent credit, I had everything going for me, I could have had anything, but my standards were set, I knew what I wanted.
Senna came to me by chance. I still think I owe him much more than I owe on him.
Honda was my last place to look, looking down my nose at Honda, although I had a Honda Shadow motorcycle that was killer, I was afraid I’d be judged by driving a Honda. I had been indulged in such a culture that looked at Honda as simple cars. What I’ve been through, they can just shut up. Honda does it right, it’s the driver that screws up the car. I selected Senna, and the salesman was hilarious. I didn’t even test drive him (the car, not the salesman), he asked, “you realize he’s a straight shift, right.” It took me a moment to compress what that meant in southern, oh, yes, it’s manual.
“That’s why I want it.”
“Don’t you want to test drive it first?”
“I guess, but this is what I want.”
“To be is to do”
I took that car that day, leaving the E-82 to die somewhere, and, well, I crashed the new (less that 1000 miles on it) into a tree. Again, I was cripples, but what was worse, I felt bad about the tree. He was pretty banged up. Senna the car was put back together, and he’s running strong, he’s no BMW, however, he’s a bad ass illustration of what was meant to be. If I were to buy a cheap “buy here pay here” place, there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t be making these note on the interwebs.
Moral of the story is that I went from a lifestyle (including Old Style) to fictitious style, to humble style, to absolutely not style. I have no car, I have nothing, does this make me a lesser of a person, am I lower on your social circle? My daddy never drove a BMW until he drove mine, and he wasn’t impressed. It’s fancy looking, it was a badge, but is it better than a 1970 Challenger. Perhaps in cornering, but otherwise, no. Just No. It’s a sensitive subject, I realize. As one of my Ex’s expressed, all post 1994 BMW’s are a melted stick of butter.
I love the Civic, I really do. He’s sort of sporty, he’s sort of sleek, he’s sort of fast.
Okay, maybe I have a certain affinity of Senna. He’s a solid car, even after getting plowed into a tree, even after several people deciding they think they and just back into (or front into) he’s solid. He tries, I’ve tested him. I’m a huge fan. I do miss the E-82, however, for a vagabond lifestyle, the Civic is superior. It’s a car that you glance over, it’s extremely ordianry. Boring even.
Once you get behind the driver seat – he hooks you up. He’s a solid car.
I’m happy I don’t roll in the Cavalier, and I’m really glad I don’t roll in the BMW. The Honda has made me a more humble person. If anyone says “It’s just a Honda”, I will punch them directly in the nose and relay the fact that that Honda saved my life.
“This is the fast lane, folks, and some of us like it here.”
Hunter S. Thompson
Nerd. That’s all I can say of myself when it comes down to HST. Truth be told, I did a self guided tour around the neighborhood that he grew up in Louisville and made a vow I was going to move there. I gazed at the library that his mother worked at, I even made a pact that if I were ever in Louisville again I’d tag (if that’s the lingo these days) a freak power image on some government building just to carry the torch of antiestablishmentaiantism (it’s not a word, but I’m going to use it anyways).
I wish I could pinpoint the moment in time that I fell in love with Gonzo Journalism, not Hunter himself, but just the writing style. There is something raw and gutsy that many mainstream profit making journalists wouldn’t dare touch with a ten foot pole. I fell in love with the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in my early high school years, and in an extremely odd fashion I’d typically throw the movie on as soon as I got home and would do my homework to it. I had may be two friends that would come visit, and they’d always be greeted with the soothing voice of Johnny Depp depicting the concept of HST.
I say concept because, nobody can really be anybody else. As much research as you can do into a person, as much shadowing you can do, as many long nights of watching the “mojo machine” churning and the key strokes flaming like fireworks on a Fourth of July night, you can’t really be him, you can only soak in an aura. You can’t be what you’ve never had, and there isn’t a single person that can “be” HST. I can very confidently say that I’ve been influenced by a certain manic writing style that has become Gonzo, but really, we’re not qualified. We’ve never been there mentally, perhaps physically, but never mentally. HST was a very unique human being.
Peacocks, Doberman Pinchers, Vincent Black Shadows, a magnificent son named Juan…how many of us can say that we can gather muses from those things. The closest thing I have is a stuffed bumble bee, a dog that travels around in my car in a box of ashes and a Honda Civic that is gutless and has crashed into more things that I care to share. I’m no Gonzo journalist, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t try or be inspired for that matter. There are far too many people that veer away from creativity for fear of judgement. To me, Gonzo Journalism isn’t really “writing” it’s more “experiencing”.
“It’s like sending the goats to tend the cabbage”
When you talk about experience, adventure, and chances to get stories on people, you can absolutely count me in. Although HST didn’t have this hitch in his getty up (or maybe he did, just didn’t admit to it….significant others all of a sudden become insecure and worried. In the mind of a journalist (even if it’s just a person like me, freelance at best, but one hell of a story teller, you don’t get material unless you talk to people, find out their story as to why the hell they’re in, oh, I dunno, Colby, KS. The 21st century, I’m convinced has turned an entire generation and beyond into a population of paranoia.
Paranoia never caught up with me, at least, not yet. As I lay on my air mattress in Grand Junction, CO I had an idea in my mind, why not see what HST has been talking about all that time.
Crossing over the Piktin county line was a sort of eerie feeling, and truth be told, I got goose bump. Imagine the entire main street covered in grassy area and you’d actually have to mosey as to where you want to go. By blood likes lower elevations. There is just took much to take on….except for the car….It was breathing like a lightweight boxer in the fifth round. We torpedoed around corners at semi warp speed, ranches and ridiculously manicured, expensive homes appeared in our windshield and disappeared into the rearview. This was the same stretch of road he leaned a Vincent Black Shadow around corners at mind boggling speeds. These were the places he’d drink and do whatever else it was that made him tick. Operative word here, “tick”.
“If Sunday is the Lords day, then Saturday belongs to the Devil. It is the only night of the week he gives out free passed to the Late show and the Too Much Fun Club.”
I’ll raise my hand and admit, I’m a platinum member of the Too Much Fun Club. I’ve been sacked from jobs because of it, lost many a relationship to it, and really, the breaking point of fun has been achieved a long time ago. The concept of “fun” and “reckless”. Being the person I am, I like to push the envelope as far as I can and perhaps it gets a little too close to the end of the table than I care to admit. There is a certain moment of feeling rejected by society when you just sort of become a renegade and blaze your own trail. I feel this is where HST was in the late 80’s, with a naive hope that things were going to get better politically and sociologically. With vain hope, we can hybridize all of the mutant politicians into a semi tolerable situation. We can decrease the decriminalization of drug offenders and my favorite (from an earlier stint when he was running for sheriff of Pitkin County) Tear up all the main streets in Aspen and turn them into green areas – – which I found surprising. He was onto something, Downtown Aspen isn’t really car friendly.
The Too Much Fun Club, it sounds glamorous for a while, I mean, how can anybody have “too much fun?” Well, kiddo, I’ll explain to you a few things. Playing Monopoly is fun, playing Monopoly after drinking significant amounts of vodka and eating frozen dinner is NOT fun. It ends up with cheating under the table with mortgage cards and people getting their feelings hurt. Fun is being allowed to go 80 mph down the interstate legally and pushing the needle past, just because you can. 80 mph is fun, going 86 and getting pulled over for illegal tint, not fun. Of all things to get nailed to the wall for – – illegal tint, in Utah.
“There are many harsh lessons to be learned from the gambling experience, but the harshest one of all is the difference between having fun and being smart.”
The tint isn’t even fun, that wasn’t part of the the club. The bag of worms opened and the amount of fun that I actually had was enough to make me a former member of the Too Much Fun Club. I couldn’t run that way, those were big dogs, I couldn’t accept him as a role model anymore – more like a fictitious character that was amusing to read about but could never replicate. HST had alien blood, I’m certain, and he did a good job, until it all went wrong. We get back to gambling, sometimes you’re so certain on laying your money on black and it lands on red – – then what?
This can be both monetarily and mentally. Not to discredit the good Doctor, but the gamble was too great to cover…he killed himself. I think all of us Hunter Seekers agree, it was just a matter of time before his brain consumed him into some sort of fun seeking paranoid truth seeker that would just offend people left and right, just because he could. That’s another harsh lesson to be learned, and not many people get there, as to how far to push your mentality on someone before it becomes out of hand. You will offend people, people will get mad at you, in fact, some people will grow to hate you. The trick is to differentiate those that you can pull of “fun” and those that you can pull “smart” off with.
Those that you can screw with their brains in a fun way, you have to know in a sort of intimate manner – sort of crawling into their brain and knowing where the breaking point is. There are a plethora of people out that that you can gamble on a bad joke with and have it become a knee slapping good time. You also take the gamble that you’ve run into a tight ass that doesn’t see why tipping cows is funny. You gamble the same way with the “smart” ones. Those that are cool arguing the fact that the earth is flat and that car is blue. We make those decisions on a daily basis, however, that was broken down in very simplistic terms.
Think of your breakfast, you could choke on your toast, but are you really going to be too afraid to toast that bread for fear of death? Are you going to take a gamble that the bread will not kill you and indulge with maybe even some jam or are you going to take the safe route – scrambled eggs. Hunter never had a scrambled eggs mentality, give him the sharp edged toast and see what happens. I was very fortunate to visit his favorite perch in Aspen, The Hotel Jerome and see where he used to sit and enjoy Chivas Regal and grapefruits for breakfast. Breakfasts typically turned into seven course meals, all the while he sorted mail and brainstormed various journalistic adventures and political gambits. I stood there, taking it all in, armed with a stuffed bee, a high power camera and a sense of jealously that took me into making a gamble.
Much like in any reality television show, or even in one of Hunters most popular books, there was a time frame we had to adhere to. In order to get back to South Carolina on time, we’d have to arrive in Denver before five PM – – it was going to be close, but there was a larger part of me that had to take that gamble. There may not be another opportunity in my life to see where my degenerate hero sat, ate, drank, and pretty much schemed. He had another joint I insisted on going, setting us back later in the day, which made the probability of actually getting into Denver in a timely fashion and actually achieve the task of dumping another car in a storage facility very slim.
But it was a gamble I wanted to take. I couldn’t NOT take it. It was a gamble I lost.
“As for what concerns me in particular I have only in my life carried to an extreme what you have not dared to carry halfway”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky ( I’ll remember how to spell his name one of these days)
Tame, a word I once embraced but now detest. Pushing on into adulthood I realized that the concept of fear didn’t occur to me anymore. Much like when you’re a little child at the top of a really tall slide, you realize “gee whiz, that looks scary”, and either you opt in or opt out. At a little bit older age you might find yourself on a roller coaster that looks a little beyond your league, but you ride it anyways – screaming in fear isn’t going to get you anywhere. It’s not going to make the ride end, it’s not going to make it any less terrifying, you just have to ride the wave until you hit the shore or get caught in the undertow. This is a gamble with your relationship with life, not just dangerous objects that rarely kill people.
“Regret is mostly caused by not doing anything.”
Charles Bukowski – Sometimes you get so alone at times it just makes Sense
I skipped town when I was 19 and “moved” to Mexico with a fella I thought I was in love with. I told only one other person (besides the one in Mexico) and she drove me to the airport. The entire trip, she reinforced the fact that I was going to have to come clean on what I was doing or become a missing person. I was taking a gamble that wasn’t smart, and although she was as motherly as she could possibly be, she knew me well enough to know I had to learn my own way. It was the sort of parenting that I probably needed at the time, and we came to an agreement. I left a voice message for all that tried to call me stating nothing but…
“I do not regret the things I’ve done, but the things I did not do.”
Probably the worst role model to base an escape from America from, but I did it anyways. I had nothing but my red suitcase, a pair of Birkenstocks and a pair of Steel-Toed Doc Martins. My wardrobe was simple and my mindset was even simpler. Everything was going to work. My “smart” took a back seat and my “gamble” took the drivers seat. To look back on it, I was in some hairy situations, drug smuggling, person smuggling, and my favorite, Colima Mexico in a dark alley on New Years. I survived, only to get abandoned (with a mutual friend at least) in Morelia, Mexico with no money and a sheer desire to get nowhere but back to Illinois. I didn’t regret going, I was just unhappy with the outcome.
Which brings me back to the toast, most of us are too afraid to step out of our comfort zone and throw open the flood gates of the scary world that awaits. I moved to South Carolina, taking a gamble, and although it wasn’t a smart gamble, it worked in my favor. I can see parallels in my life and HST, he took a little bit more drastic measures of pushing the gamble limit, dealing with big names like Rolling Stone magazine, he had a niche, he was the only one out there like him. Playing the lottery has always been the stupidest thing in the world to me, however, so is driving across country for a job that you know nothing about isn’t exactly “smart” either. I did it anyways, and didn’t buy a lottery ticket even once.
The biggest gamble I took was picking up a hitchhiker in Nebraska – – which was cool until the police were involved. Again, a gamble I took, and I won’t take it back for a moment. He kept me awake when I could have fallen asleep and probably kept some riff raff from giving me trouble at truck stops. I’m grateful for that hitch hiker – even if he did call the cops on my for allegedly “stealing his equipment”. (Long story short, although he was super nice, he was an absolute moon bat that I traveled almost 1000 miles with and had to ditch him at a gas station. I forgot one of his packs in the trunk while I was dumping his belongings on the curb, and it just so happened to be the pack that contained the machine that allows him to talk to the aliens.)
The police officer thought it was as crazy as I, gave me his card and said:
“You really take a gamble out there picking up hitchhikers, I’d advise against it in the future.”
Yes, yes sir. No more gambling with the strangers on the side of the road. No more gambling with the road for me for a while.
From beer serving record shops in Sweden to the oldest brewery in the Czech Republic, to being on the highest alpine peak at a temperature of -2 Celsius on a motorcycle, to sliding through customs smuggling illegal pharmaceuticals (okay, I got you on that one, it never happened) to consuming an entire jug (the fluid ounces escape me right now) and passing out under a picnic table, I’m being more mindful of the “gambles” and the “smart decisions of life”
I suppose I’ve given up on most of my immediate family, a few taken out of the mix, a few by choice, and few because the risk of initiating contact would stir a gamble in psychological drama, I’ve become sort of desolate – which is a phenomenal thing. Instead of “keeping up appearances” and being what I think people want me to be, I’ve sort of become the “antihero” (it’s a Fyodor jab in Notes from the Underground). I don’t want you to be like me, and I certainly don’t want to be like you. My gamble is that you’ll die happy and miserable all at the same time, I however, will go through my life being shot out of a cannon, never squeezed out of a tube.
Gambling, however, with my own safety, and others for that matter, is top on my list. I think this is one thing that warps HST’s mind in the long run, the absolute recklessness of his lifestyle and the impact it had on others. Those of us that are wired to a different circuit cannot connect with those that want to ride the safe wave back to the shore. We need the turbulence of the undertow, and there is no reason whatsoever to pull anyone else down with you. I’ve been on this surfboard since being in Mexico, and it’s not fair to a lot of people.
“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”
Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
I’m not going to be led to my decisions based on what others believe is the best for me. I look back on my losses, my 128i, my 635csi, almost my Civic, there’s all a common denominator – taking a bad gamble. We can even throw in a few relationships, oops, throw the car in reverse and shake your head in regret…although…regret is such a harsh word, no. No. In the deeper mind we call those learning experiences. That’s why I strongly believe you…
“Dance with the one that brung ya”
(It’s a southern thing, hard to explain unless you’ve been flat footing or square dancing)
I regret but I don’t let go. I can repair, only if there are reparations to me made. Going out to Aspen, going out to Woody Creek sort of grounded me in a way that I don’t think any sort of historical monument or amusement park could have done. That’s where the mastermind did his thinking. He drove fast down twisty roads in a red coupe (although his was a convertible, Senna is pretty close) in a haze without regard to others. He might have stated being “stable”, but that’s uncertain. It makes me feel a bit ugly about carrying on him as an idol for so long.
“I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on Fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed. My father taught me that, along with a few other things that have kept my life interesting.”
Hunter S Thompson – Kingdom Of Fear
I may participate in mundane things, like showering, brushing my teeth and paying bills, but never will I allow my life to become boring. That’s a vow I’ve made with myself. In a plane somewhere between Mexico City and Atlanta I realized I’m not going to be content until I’m pushing the limits to the stressing point. I got off the plane and shamefully couldn’t break down to reach out to family to pick me up, I called my boss. He arrived in a shiny new truck, freshly detailed, and shook his head at me. Looking at me with those solemn grey eyes he professed “Nikki, that was just a bad idea.”
I couldn’t respond for a few minutes. We rode in the truck in silence heading towards Northern Illinois and I finally cracked and said “Hey, you know what, I got shot at, I smuggled drugs, and saw an erupting volcano….what have you done lately.”
Game, Set, Match. I win.
“It’s only when you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.”
Gone, Daddy, gone, as the Violent Femmes song goes. Every single picture that I’ve taken before last Tuesday morning is gone. Everything dating back to my adventures in Canada to my current life in Oregon. All the pictures that are wrought with excitement, adventure and overall oddities are gone. I’m shattered. The last picture I have that I have dating back to my past is a picture I took on my airplane ride over back to South Carolina, a stupid picture of a Battleship game that I won on the little screen that’s supposed to keep you busy on cross country flights.
I went to retrieve a picture of a certain scene from my travels to Seattle and I about puked, they were all gone. No pictures of the Ferris wheel, no pictures of me acting funny in front of an oversized carved mariner, gone. The problem with this is that I really can’t remember most of those memories without having some sort of photograph to trigger something deep in my temporal lobe. I know I was there, but I don’t remember what or why I was doing those things. Again, my stomach is in knots and I am puzzled as to what happened. Did some gnome come in during the middle of the night and decide to erase my memories? Did some wicked phone virus decide to hijack my phone and take all of my pictures and put them on some weird fetish site on the internet somewhere? If so, well, I guess I’m glad I’m out there somewhere.
“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.”
Homer, The Iliad
This is not the first time this has happened before. I actually had all of my pictures from my trip across country in my BMW E24 safely in a Dropbox account. I emphasize the word safely. Three weeks of adventures across 2800 miles of everything from the Hoover Dam, Vegas, car shows, the list goes on. I was at work one day and wanted to show off pictures of the edge trimmer engine powered margarita blender and they were gone. All of the pictures gone, as if they didn’t exist. Like my past didn’t exist. I tried to explain the situation, the intensity of the crowd and the overall over-consumption of everyone around us, but it was almost impossible. Even to a person like me that can write until her fingers are blistered, it was hard for me to orate what it was like to be there at that very bizarre moment in time. While most people were probably at home watching their favorite flicks on television, I was partying with a bunch of BMW enthusiasts with an abundance of energy and no lack of excitement.
But the pictures are gone. How can I actually prove I was there at that moment? What credibility do I have without some sort of photographic evidence that I was there. My adult life has become me scratching my nails into the rock of life until my fingers bleed trying to climb to the top and see what’s over the next rock face. I’ve pushed myself to limits that some don’t understand, and probably wouldn’t even want to. Why do I do it, I’m not sure, but it sure as hell has caught up with me and it’s starting to make me wonder. When I’m dead and gone, who’s going to be there to tell my story, and at that, would anybody really even care? Is it really that interesting of a story to begin with?
“It’s a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Forever my favorite Shakespeare, only because it seems like they all went a little mad for their own reasons. I’ve tried to dig some of his other stuff, but although there is plenty of madness, it all seemed to have a little bit too much romanticism to it. Take that one about a the summertime dream (A Midsummers Night Dream), it was just too, I dunno, cheesy. Romeo and Juliet, psssshhhh, don’t get me started. For some reason, pieces like that just make me feel like they’d be taking selfies throughout the whole prose of kissing and dancing around fires and stuff. Most of those seem like they’re just a bunch of attention starved millennials looking for attention. Now MacBeth, that’s where it goes down. A bunch of narcissists that want something and will do what they will to get it. How does this relate to me losing all of my pictures? Hang tight, we’ll get to that.
Act V MacBeth – that’s what sums up the my entire philosophy of photographs of people on the internet. Obtuse, yes, but really not that much of a stretch. There was once a small subsection of people that would glance at the internet for social purposes and exchange emails that actually had context, also known as words. Expression, emotions, verbs, nouns, adjectives, an actual explanation as to what the fuck was going on in their world. I remember a time when I used to write emails to everyday to my fiancee at the time to explain what was up. I didn’t send cryptic two sentence texts, I didn’t send an awkward selfie of myself showing nothing more than I’m alive and I can take a bad picture of myself. I’d actually share how I was doing not what I was doing.
“Yet here’s a spot.”
We do it, or at least those of us that have any sort of internet contact, be it social media or not. We see something, it intrigues us, and we focus on it. I felt like my pictures that I could share on social media were almost like that spot Lady MacBeth saw. She saw it, she focused on it and was intrigued. A divergence of interest, jealousy, and in some cases loss of reality cause a black hole of the soul. Once expended on that particular “spot” you move to another and yet again you’re focused on something else with thoughts of “whoa, that’s a gorgeous wedding gown, that’s a gorgeous beach, whoa, she’s fat/skinny/pretty/successful” It it a tornado through the brain. All of these little spots get to you.
“There’s still a spot here.”
And yet we go on, diving further into the realm of the internet, and then it can bleed into our outside world. From a manic depressive person, it can be absolutely overwhelming. There are these spots everywhere. Lady Macbeth had no real spots (if you’re not up on your old time stuff like MacBeth, the spot refers to blood, which isn’t really there, it’s all in her mind. For all intensive purposes, social media is all in our minds as well. I’ll be the first to admit that I used to try to cause “spots” on my account for others to dwell upon, such as adventures that other people could never be able to be able to go on, but that sort of guilt has finally caught up to me. I’d post pictures of a carefree lifestyle where I’d drive around without being responsible and hope that other people would look at it and be jealous. I wanted it, I wanted to be the spot on someone’s brain.
Once my pictures disappeared I realized something, I was living only with a spot on my own hand, a spot of needing to be better than somebody, anybody. I wanted to post something so badly on social media for someone to be envious of, a photograph of something. Was my picture of my battleship game really going to do it? No. Could I snap a selfie and be an spot in someones life? No. Does it mean that I’m going to give up posting pictures to social media, no.
“Come out, damned spot! Out, I command you!”
I looked at one of the last couple of photos on my phone that I had taken after losing everything and saw a picture taken yesterday of my best friend since second grade and I seeing each other for the first time in ten years. It was an amazing time, I was so happy I could have and almost did cry. We both looked so happy, but I couldn’t bring myself to share it, all I saw was me looking fat and old. I looked happy, yes, but fat and old. I couldn’t let that be a spot in on someones news feed, I was too embarrassed. It became a major point of depression for me, an absolute roller coaster ride of feeling absolutely exuberant to a piece of dog turd discarded in a plastic bag along a sidewalk somewhere. Out damn spot. Why did I want to share that anyways, was it really anybody’s business that I saw a long lost pal?
“A recent ethnographic study draws a strong correlation between purposefulness and happiness. Purpose seems beneficial to overcoming substance abuse, healing from tragedy and loss, and achieving economic success.”
My pictures made me feel purposefulness, I felt like I was entertaining people and that brought me happiness, however, it never helped me with any sort of overcoming of disorders of any kind, if anything it fed them. That whole saying “anything you can do I can do better”, well, I could never do anything better than anyone, or at least that’s where my brain rests. I’ve lost everything it seems, but I’ve also gained some too. Focusing more on purposefulness is going to get me much farther than trying to amuse people with pictures of a stuffed bumble bee, me trying to look like something other than a pig in lipstick and heels and scenery that can be seen on any other search engine on the internet. I’m no google image search, I’m just a random blonde girl with a million questions and no answers.
Sitting in this hotel lobby in Denver I realize I don’t know where I belong. I’m scared, but I’m brave.
“Insomnia is my greatest inspiration.”
Three AM again, in this age of being. The apartment is lit up like the Vegas strip on a hot summer night and weird music is playing in my headphones. Again, my evening was a twisting, writhing fight with sheets and pillows unable to find a comfortable position both physically and mentally. Listening to the soft noise of the irrigation system moistening the ground outside my window, I get lulled into a sort of trance. It’s not sleep, it’s not awake, it’s a sort of psychological break. Sleep wasn’t going to come anytime soon.
I turn onto my other side and break into a pouring sweat. A train whistle blows somewhere and my eyes pop open. It’s dark, I can see the soft parking lot light illuminating the parking lot full of shitty cars. I want to sleep, I really do. I love sleep, it’s the only place I feel safe most of the time, but it wasn’t going to happen, not tonight at least. I sit upright, reach over and turn on my tacky bedside lamp and shake my head. “Not again, really, not again.” I understand the mental health ramifications of sleep deprivation, if anybody does, it’s me.
“Do some research.”
In a phone conversation last night, I expressed being overwhelmed, absolutely against a wall in which I felt I had nowhere to turn. My depressive state had coupled with my friend the eating disorder and decided it was going to try and sabotage all of my attempts at climbing from the fear of being in a new place. If there’s anyone in the world that has put up with my fits of fear and loathing, it would be Phil. He’s seen me at my best, he’s seen me at damn well dead. Reaching for help, and selfishly thinking he could wave a magic wand and fix everything, he offered only the advice as to research. Figure out what’s making me tumble into a dark abyss of my own mind.
The internet can be a big scary place, and although it’s a wealth of information, it’s also something that can turn into a worm hole and suck you down tunnels you don’t know how to get out of. To a deep thinker, you never take the first article you come across, you never settle on the easy article with bullet points and pictures. I want context, I want big words that I probably can’t pronounce. I want to be able to look at four different websites and get a consensus on a hypothesis. What I came up with was a chicken and an egg. I’m not a fan of chicken and I hate eggs.
“Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine investigated emotional responses in the brains of people with insomnia and found dysfunctional activity in an area of the brain that regulates and processes emotions. Their findings may provide an explanation for the mechanism by which disrupted sleep influences depression and other psychiatric conditions.”
So, pretty much what I’ve researched said that if I’m depressed, I’ll have insomnia and if I have insomnia it will feed other mental health issues, including depression. I’m not talking about being a little sad, no sir, I’m talking about pulling your car on the side of the road on the way to work and falling absolutely apart. The odd thing is that there isn’t really much that you can do once you feel yourself falling apart, you’re tired, that’s for certain, and you’re probably not exactly prepared to deal with trying to explain why your eyes are watery and red. The best case scenario your co-workers just think you’ve got allergies or are on drugs….drugs…
“Ambien helps me sleep more nights than I care to admit – although I’m uncertain about the quality of sleep.”
You might be thinking “N Weed, why don’t you just get some sleeping pills?”
My response, “No, thank you.”
Pharmaceuticals, as a tool, are great. You don’t use your damn hammer everyday if you’re an accountant and if you’re a carpenter you don’t need a sewing machine everyday, but every once in a while….every once in a while you need a tool. I’m guilty of this, I have painful bouts of shaking fits due to what some call neurological damage or others just call nervous energy. I grab my little orange bottle and get a little bit of alleviation from an aggravating condition that keeps me from writing like a normal human being and sometimes even walking without being afraid of falling. I’m okay with that tool, it mellows me out.
Sleep aids, however, terrify the living hell out of me. There was a time in my life that I was engaged to a guy who had a mom who felt like she could fix my flaws with medication and going to the doctor and beauty salon. Make her beautiful and numb. I went on Prozac and fell asleep behind the wheel. They supplemented that with Welbutrin and I stayed awake for almost 52 hours straight, where somewhere in there I drove to the South Carolina coast from Greenville, SC in record time. I remember glancing down and not understanding the instrument panel. It wasn’t where I wanted to be. I’ve never been a proponent of hard drugs, but I have to believe that I had a reaction to that stuff similar to what one would have the first time doing speed (which I’m not really sure what that is….)
With a brain that goes faster than a squirrel up a tree running from a cat, that combination didn’t work for me.
“Perscribe pills to offset the pills you know you should take.”
Panic at the Disco (okay, lame reference)
After getting back from the beach I walked back to my doctor and said “fix it.” The solution, Ambien. Okay, so you fall asleep while driving, you don’t sleep when you’re supposed to, so we’re going to give you this to make you a normal person that sleeps at night again. I tried to manage without, and it wasn’t working, I broke down and took the Ambien and fell asleep on an air mattress in a guest bedroom. I needed sleep, I craved it.
Then things got weird.
“Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion”
Hunter S. Thompson
Regretfully so, I’ve seen far too many psychedelic movies than I care to admit to, but those are safe. You can turn off the television and be back in a safe spot. I’ve probably have seen Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas upwards of 200 times, and it’s not because I’m a fan of the hallucinogenic properties or moral of that particular lifestyle, it’s just entertaining.
“It’s like taking a trip and never leaving the farm.”
Dan Bowman, the song Wildwood Weed
I felt my body melt into the air filled rubber sack and sort of assimilated my flesh to some sort of molten lava flowing down into ravines of a vast landscape. My pillow felt like some sort of cloud full of razor blades and I kept moving my face around, trying to escape the ethereal sensation of pain but pleasure. The air bed felt like it wanted to wrestle, I wanted to sleep. The medication had set in and I was in the throws of a bad, bad sleeping pill induced trip. Terrified, never having such sensations before I pulled the sheets over my head, but not after throwing that wretched pillow against the wall to make it as far away from me as possible. It was trying to kill me. I knew it.
I hid under my sheet, on that air mattress in Anderson, SC, and prayed for morning. Sleep wasn’t coming, I was wide awake in terror with no way of making it stop, the little pill I took to try to alleviate my insomnia was making it exponentially worse.
“When I was taking pharmacy classes, I would remember Ambien by its generic name Zolpidem because I would associate the word Zolpidem with ZZZ which equals sleep”
-anonymous classmate of mine while studying pharmacy
The piles of the carpet erupted from the floor and became sort of a scary kelp forest environment. There was no telling how long I laid there in a catatonic stupor with fears of razor blade pillows and a carpet of kelp. The next morning I got up and sat at the kitchen table, tired physically and mentally, alone and confused. What happened. Why wasn’t this working. The ZZZ’s never came. I was tormented all night, something that is far worse than any insomnia that I’ve ever endured. It was six in the morning, before everyone else was up. I went into the cabinet and poured myself a glass of Bushmills Black. My soon-to-be-never-was-Mother-in-law came out to find me a puddle of mess.
She wasn’t pleased, only because she was addicted to helping, and she made it worse.
We sat there over the breakfast bar and I explained the visual torment I went through the past night. She poured herself a glass and I realized, people just want to help. Never in her life did she ever think that what the doctor recommended would cause an entire night of physically intangible visual illusions that would keep you from sleeping even more. I felt bad, not only had I not had sleep, I had been terrorized all night from windmills I could never conquer.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Cuixote
Luckily for me, I didn’t let my brain dry up. The Ambien wasn’t for me, and honestly, the experience was as terrifying as any car crash, near death experience, or tax audit I’ve even been through. I’ve been through some pretty terrible self inflicted situations before. 72 pounds on life support at 27, hitting a tree going 40 mph (at least), picking up a hitchhicker in Nebraska and toting him all the way to Oregon only for him to call the Police on me. I can handle all of that, however, the thought of needing to take something that will make me see carpet piles turning into the sea isn’t acceptable. I’ll embrace my insomnia.
“The ability to accurately judge emotion in human faces is compromised by sleep deprivation.”
Same Psychology Today article
“A wink is as good to a blind horse”
The Faces (an album, which is killer)
I love this reference on so many levels. For one, the primary speaks of faces, and the second is from The Faces. Nerd. Yes. Sorry.
It’s no big secret that moving to Oregon has caused quite a few changes in lifestyle for me, and although I’d like to say it was supposed to be a physical change that was supposed to lead to mental improvement, I know better. Anybody that knows me well enough knows that my favorite magazine in Psychology Today and I really only like to have conversations that challenge my intellect. Sometimes I think my brain is wired to a different voltage, one that my breaker can’t handle. It’s almost as if I lay down to sleep and by breaker flips. Somehow I thought I’d find peace in Oregon, a place to start over. A fake wink is as good to a middle finger to a taxi driver.
My sleep deprivation hasn’t been by choice, that’s for damn sure. There have been times that I thought about just treating myself to a some over the counter remedy that “alleviates symptoms of insomnia”, but that’s scarier than a snake in my toilet. The biggest difference right now is that I have no reason for insomnia except depression. Again, it’s cyclical, A+B causes C, C=+D-E, math.
Does my roommate think I might be insane? Perhaps.
I don’t know when I flipped off my taxi driver, I don’t know when I went chasing windmills.
Wait, maybe I do.
Instead of reading the stereotypical books that hit the newsstand I read obscure classics.
Instead of staying where it was safe an familiar, I took off, more times than once, and I think that’s why I’m tired and I can’t sleep. All of that vagabond nature has caught up to me and I’m feeling a certain sort of consequence. With every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Opposite. Does that mean that the fish you intend to catch are in the end going to catch you? Does that mean that the fuel you put in your tank actually fuels you? Does that mean that the shit you pull out of your carpet with your vacuum actually sucks the shit from your soul? Physics has always been one of my strong points, but when it comes down to drawing parallels between the two, gag.
My sleep patterns, well, although I’m lacking in quality sleep, I’m not as dysfunctional as to where I was when I tried a sleep “aid”.