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What A Pill You Are
I promise I’ll return to the angry mod rants soon. Recently, however, we’ve been dealing with so many crazy life things that it’s difficult not to talk about them. So this is going to be another life thing rant. If you don’t like these, then you probably don’t like my life, and to quote Frank Zappa, “who can hardly blame you.” But chiefly, we talk about beauty here, and it all relates. Also, I saw a Wendy’s employee have a seizure at the french fry machine today.
I am a junkie. I am a worthless, dependent junkie on shit made in a laboratory by individuals with more brains than sense. Dependent and itching for the next, just like any statistic in an ally somewhere right now jamming a three used hypo into his least used and most stable vein. Worthless. A waste to society like any of them. What is my drug of choice? Prescribed antidepressants.
That’s right, kids. Prescriptions, obtained legally or otherwise, are junk like smack and coke. I’ll always remember Mr. Jacobs at West End Elementary school where I went. He was a gym teacher. Part of a gym teacher’s job is to teach the “little pathogens,” as my sister calls them, about drugs and why they shouldn’t do them. In between squat thrusts and dodgeball, of course. And those stupid tests where you had to do chin ups and the girls had to hang on the bar. Never understood that. In his drug talk, Mr. Jacobs reiterated ad nauseum, “A drug is any substance that affects the body,” a point to his chest, “or the mind,” a point to his head. Substance was a big word in fourth grade. Again, with the gesticulation, Mr. Jacobs, “A drug is any substance that affects the body or the mind.” Of course he was telling us to keep away from booze and smokes and smack and blow and grass and any other colloquially labeled drug. “A drug is any substance,” he said again, “that affects the body or the mind.” We’d repeat it too, like a good score of impressionable minds ready for indoctrination into the science fiction reality of “1984.” (The book, not the year, children.) Any substance. Any. Any is an absolute word. I wouldn’t know that until later in my shitty life.
Any. Anything. Anyone. Anywhere. Any. All. Every. Absolute. Caffeine, Advil, sugar, alcohol, anesthesia, cough syrup, marijuana, cocaine, the shit in turkey that makes you sleep. These are all of any, aren’t they? Later on in life, we learn to discriminate. We learn that Advil is a good affect substance, and that PCP is a bad affect substance. We learn that LSD is a bad and the shit hidden in the hypodermic that the doctors are shoving carelessly (it seemed) into my spine was a good. But then we learn that the goods can become the bads too. Then the black and white, the absolute of any, becomes less so. And we have a nice cloud covering of logic painted in grey.
Where’s the grey. The grey is prescription drug abuse, which wasn’t as prevalent when I was a lad as it is now. The grey is the two beers at home, or the seventeen at a party. The grey is quitting the things when their usefulness have evaporated, and then we understand what we’re doing to ourselves.
Years later, long after the memory of little Andy Basile had been replaced in Mr. Jacobs’ mind with more relevant and useful information, we arrived at the industry of substance. The ones that “affect the body or the mind.” Are you pointing at your chest and head yet? We arrive in a well furnished room with a variety of sitting choices. A chair, or couch if you prefer. The floor is always the easiest. There’s a desk with your file on it. It’s larger than the last three books you finished reading stacked one atop the next. There are drawings on the wall from the other people who come into this room to choose a seating option. There are framed and fancy documents which prove that the owner knows of what she says. There’s a box of tissues. And another unopened ready to replace the first box. They go through a lot of boxes. There are pens and stress balls and pads of paper and other dodads with logos on them from the companies that make the substances that “affect the body or the mind.” Fun words they use to replace the real words of the substances because Effexor sells more pills than Venlafaxine. Before you get into the well furnished room with the drawings and the tissues and the framed fancy documents, you saw the guy who left the pens and stress balls and pads of paper and other dodads. He bought everyone lunch, expensed it out on his tablet computer, and then laughs with the support staff as he adjusts his forty dollar tie and seven hundred dollar suit jacket. Then your name is called, and you go into the well furnished room. On a small pad of invaluable ocean colored paper, you get the code for a substance that may “affect the body or the mind.” They give you a thing Mr. Jacobs told me to avoid umpteen years ago. This is to take away the crazy, so it’s a good. Not a bad.
Then the good runs out. The good they’ve settled on giving me is a bad kind of good. It’s a good because it takes the crazy away. Makes me nightmare free. Makes me affable and focused. But it is a deadly good. Too much of this good will kill me, so they monitor it. If I have ten left, I can’t refill because that is too many to have. So I have to wait until I have two or one left. Then I go to the chemist, and he tells me he has to contact the woman who signed the ocean colored invaluable paper so they can give me more. I have two capsules of good left.
Days pass, the chemist’s phone calls unanswered; my own phone calls unanswered. Then the good becomes the bad. The good begins to show its stripes as to what it does in the meantime. My body asks for the good, and when none is there, it throws a tantrum. It shakes and sweats. It makes sounds that aren’t there. It makes my muscles move without my asking. It takes feeling away from things I need, like fingers and legs. It explains to me without words that I am dependent on what I’ve deprived it of for the last several days. It tells me I’m a junkie. It reminds me that a drug is “any substance that affects the body or the mind,” and that I am addicted to a drug.
What’s the point of this? The point is that addiction is sinister in all forms. It reminds me that my beauty is contingent on something that, when removed from the equation, reaps a wrath of perception and senses. It’s like living with a Fantomas record skipping and on repeat. It reminds me that I can’t be the way I need to be without a tiny piece of animal bone filled with a magic brain dust that is exactly the thing Mr. Jacobs told me to avoid. Conflicted is a word without enough meaning.
Why am I talking about this? Because I’d like to be a sober and affable individual, but I can’t be. So says my shrink and my therapist (not the same person). I know there is a peaceful beauty in my brain, but what upsets me is that I can’t arrive at that beauty without the help of a chemical thing that was never meant to be in my brain to begin with. If I’m meant to be crazy, shouldn’t I just be crazy? Sanity is a thing that can be replaced. That makes it an interesting thing, in a way. When you lose your mind, you can replace it with another. When you lose your leg, you have to settle for a copy of a copy of a copy that may, with the lights dim, resemble slightly the thing that was lost to begin with. Should probably be the other way around, given how little we know about brains and how much we know about legs. Still, at the end of the day, how much better am I as I sit here shaking, sweating, freezing, nauseous, hearing things, seeing smoke, chewing my thumb skin, twitching, crying at moments, laughing at others, and staring into space in between; how much better off am I than the guy in the ally with the needle who is doing the exact same things I am? Stay beautiful, kids.
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