Another year bites the dust.
At midnight on New Year’s Eve, I was warm in bed, safe from a deluge of rain, as the rest of California flooded and slid away. While visions of the impending doom of a fascist takeover of America danced in my head, nothing is as it was before. I cannot assume that when I wake all will be right, or all will be wrong. It will just be different and I have to adjust my expectations. Gone is the nostalgic wanting for that semblance of normalcy, and in its place an understanding that I have to adapt to an ever-changing new reality. If you know anything about me, a former heroin addict, then you probably can surmise that I spent a good portion of my life avoiding reality by checking out high on drugs. But these days that is not in the cards.
As usual my timing is off.
I was in rehab when another junkie from Thailand explained how in his tribe when you became an elder and designated too old to work, you got to go off into the jungle and smoke opium in a small hut, and the village brought you food and supplies as a reward for your service to the community. And the brilliance of that idea haunted me for a good many years. Because nothing preoccupies a junkie’s thoughts more than, “where’s mine?” Unfortunately for me, I’m not Thai, I was too self-centered to wait until I was “old,” and instead used up all my “retirement” time doing drugs in my 20’s and 30’s.
If I’d only known what a shit show life would be now.
There has never been a better time to check out from reality. Look around you at all the insanity. I watched twenty minutes of the vote for speaker of the house the other night. It was a circus of useless old clowns milling around and grandstanding for their $147K a year jobs, while the majority of Americans are scraping by. Meanwhile, bomb cyclones, atmospheric rivers, hurricanes, and mega-storms are causing daily havoc as the earth is desperately trying to shake us human polluters off it’s back. Every day I hear people screaming that we need to save humanity, yet when I drive in L.A. traffic and see how shitty people treat each other — road rage, cutting each other off, always getting theirs first, I think, people aren’t savable, they suck.
I hate be the bearer of bad news.
So, like where’s the gratitude, Patrick? You said there’d be gratitude and shit. Oddly I am grateful for a lot of things. Human beings can hold two opposing concepts in their little self-absorbed brains at the same time. I was just pointing out the obvious because this is what I wake up to, in my brain, every morning. The ever present, what the fuck is it going to be today? What dumpster fire is on the agenda? Like this bullshit that covid is just over. Meanwhile everyone I know is getting it. I didn’t spend the last three plus years doing all the right things, to not get covid, only to fling open the front door and let the damn thing stroll into my life… um, no. So yeah, grateful to not have had covid (and I know, kiss of death saying that out loud).
Grateful that twenty-two years ago today, I stopped shooting dope. The fact that I’m not dead, incarcerated, or still strung-out amazes me every day, and this is not something I take for granted. There are so many people in my life that have helped me stay clean and sober and I couldn’t have done it without all of you. I am a bit of an extrovert but given my druthers, I’d rather sit at home and write, than venture out into the dreaded masses (see the above “save humanity” comment), yet I’d show up for the recovery community in a New York minute (and truth be told, I don’t even like some of them), because they literally saved my life and I have to give back what was so generously given to me.
If there’s one thing this pandemic made glaringly obvious is how lucky and grateful I am that I get to walk through life with Jennifer at my side. I may yell at the universe that I want to be in solitude, but the reality is that me left alone with just my thoughts is a bit scary. Together we’ve weathered this pandemic, deaths, financial ups and downs, scrambled to move when our building was sold and we got kicked out, we got married, we’ve traveled, and the only place we’ve ever argued was in a mall—because it was a fucking mall and those places are designed to grind down your intelligence so that you’ll buy anything just to be allowed to leave.
Love you, Jenn.
After years of writing, editing, submitting, and bleeding all over the page, my memoir: Anarchy At The Circle K was published this year by Iris Berry on Punk Hostage Press. This book took a lot out of me. It was the first book I thought I wanted to write but obviously proved to not be the first book I’d write. Many stops and starts over the years, and then a few years of lounging between a press I thought was picking it up, only to have them pass on it, and then about a year worth of inaction, frozen with internalized fear, hatred, anger, self-loathing, and rejection. Yeah kids, become a writer, it’s a blast! In the end landing with Punk Hostage Press was the right thing to do, and the right place for this book. Now onto the next one (really? Oh fuck!).
I’m grateful for family, and although I don’t see them very often, they are in my heart and thoughts. I’m grateful for close friends (you all know who you are). I’m grateful for my two dumb cats, even though they show me no love, and in fact at this very moment one is two feet away ignoring the hell out of me. I am grateful that there are people out there that trust me, employ me, support me, read me, and even love me. I hope I reciprocate and express all of that and more in return.
It’s been a while, but I miss my father, a lot. I’m still trying to wrap my head around him being gone. But I am grateful for the time we spent together, especially the last twenty years.
And in case you didn’t know it. I’m grateful for each and every one of you.