Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Ninety

Posted by ilbebe on February 14, 2012

The custom concern for the people as it has been before will no longer suffice. Gotta go to what? Get yr own jawb. This is mine, and I work for myself. The fruits of my labor are not meant to be eaten, but they can be absorbed, and on paper, they taste better than money…

A significant turning point in my life came on September 6, 2005. I went to see the Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Independent with an old friend. Sadly, that old friend no longer speaks to me. This current condition is a rather direct result of my drinking, as strange as that may seem. On that night in 2005, I parted ways with her around three in the morning because she declined my offer to stay at my house. That was the house on a hill by the lake where I sublet a basement room for three months and learned Baby Britain and Waltz No. 2. Dead soldiers lined up on the table, and I peed out the window nightly, and somehow K sensed this and did not want to stay. Instead, she left, and for the second of what would be become an eventual four times in a row, she could not follow my simple instructions to just stay to right until you get to I-580W in Albany/El Cerrito/Richmond, and so crossed the Bay Bridge into San Francisco on her northbound trajectory. While she was taking the scenic route, I cracked open “Smashed”, by Koren Zailckas.

“Smashed” is her memoir about a decade of alcohol abuse, which began for her at age fourteen at the Jersey Shore, continued through her college daze at Syracuse, and all the way up until she bottomed out on a date in Manhattan. Towards the beginning of the book, she says plainly to look at the terms we use to describe getting or being drunk; smashed, blasted, hammered, wasted, annihilated. It should be obvious to us that this is self-abuse. I didn’t go to sleep that night, yet got to work on time well-rested and ready to put my shoulder to the wheel. K made it home safely a little after I got in to the office that morning, and it felt good to tell her the white lie that I had slept like a baby.

I didn’t drink for five days. I felt great. By the end of the month, I had secured a new room that was not a sublet. This new room was an L-shaped closet type space at the edge of the second floor landing, with a small staircase in the middle of the L where you rose up to the platform that allowed attic access. I did not once open that attic door in the twenty-one months I lived there, but I could hear the rats running around above me at night. K came to visit me there a few days after Thanksgiving that year, a few days before her birthday. I got up early on the Sunday of her visit, and finished a song I’d been trying to write for her for two years. It was called Sleep Well Tonight. I played it for her, and she loved it.

Then the holidays continued, and I drank and I drank and I drank. Casey’s Mom was still in the hospital, and I couldn’t spend New Year’s in Oakland because I got snowed in at a cabin in Tahoe on the 30th of December. Casey’s Mom died the day before Groundhog’s Day. I threw up all over myself after a day-long shopping spree/one-day bender in San Francisco in mid-February. Then I punched a hole in my door on St. Paddy’s in the midst of a car-bomb blitz. Then ten days later I crawled up the stairs from the front door after being hit by a car by the Mexican border at the end of a grief-fueled trip to Tijuana.

This is the chorus to Sleep Well Tonight:

Don’t go in debt to yourself

Nothing’s more important than your own mental health

Please remember that your compassion is your wealth

And know…

Life is a mystery, push often comed to shove

But sleep well tonight knowing you have my love

If only we took the time to listen to ourselves more often. If e’er y’ feel that you don’t have that time, take it. You can  make it.

We all can, and we all will.

Happy V-Day, lovers.

From Oakland to all compass points of the rose, this is our year.

Don’t fuck it up, FUCK IT!!

Peace.

-3:30PM 2/14/12, home, seated in the armchair I spent most of last year in, doing something about that now, even in the half-light of waking…

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