Friday, February 15, 2008


At last, my life is finally returning to its natural state: a boy-meets-world/Walter Mitty/burlesque farce/parody of itself.

I'm much more used to operating in these conditions.

On Wednesday night, I was fired for putting in my two weeks notice.

Heh heh, I couldn't make this stuff up.

Also, last night a mysterious journal appeared outside my bedroom door. It smells delicious and has a classical scene on the front, perhaps of Italy.

Yes, this is much more comfortable. Bring on the day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Whoa, nelly! Let's all hold our horses now. After re-reading my last post, I noticed that I've devoted a too-large portion on suicide. This was just musing, mind you. I am not religious and even if I was, most agree that I'm not exactly in store for eternal paradise, not quite.

I'm in no hurry to disband my molecules. Not the big ones, anyway.

The chocolate medallion I was wearing around my neck when I was found as a baby under a saguaro cactus foretold my fate: "This teh boy shall ne'er die until he hath been forcibly removed from a John Tesh concert."

And that hasn't happened yet. But there is one coming up, now that I think about it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It was still dark when I woke up this morning. I don't know what time it is because I've moved my clocks out of my line of sight from my bed. The alarm hasn't gone off yet so I know it's not 8:00. I also doubt it would still be this dark if it was, although lately there have been a few days of dark rainy mornings that try to fool me.

I wrap myself up, roll away from the darker grey spot on my pillow that warns of drool, bump into the wall, sigh, and resign myself to lying on my back. The guttural sound of my own snoring wakes me. I roll furiously, get nowhere, and pass out again.

After enough electricity has passed through its quartz crystal, the alarm clock believes it is eight o'clock and strives to wake me. I sit up and cast about for a small white bottle with someone else's name on it. It's never far and I spy it's blue cap peeking out from under a copy of Italo Calvino's short stories. I pick it up.

The pill inside rattles lonely. My own little plastic death knell. I try not to worry. Today, at least, will be a good day.

My trusty Nalgene bottle, also never far, helps wash away my graveyard temperament. I am suddenly weary again and I lie back down. I turn away from the bit of sunlight coming through my window, towards the blue wall devoid of posters or pictures, and put away my consciousness.

I dream of people being angry with me.

I awake in time for breakfast but too early for brunch. This time of day in the house, I make all the sounds. Coffee beans rattle, small blades whir, boiling water spits and pops. I shower, taking a bit longer now that I have enough hair to shampoo. Perhaps I let it grow to have an excuse to enjoy the hot water. Still, the mildewed mirror has hardly the time to fog before I am finished getting clean. I decide not to shave today.

More spitting and popping and now some glumping and my oatmeal is ready. A plastic bear half-full of honey is ready and waiting. The coffee goes into a penguin urn my sister gave me, all except what I've already poured into a large tin mug, colored the speckled blue-white of public school carpeting. I sit at my computer and begin to write.

My friend is a nurse. When I told her of initiative I'd been taking in my medicinal treatment, she slapped my hand like a bad puppy. I cowered sheepishly (a typical tactic of bad puppies, even 200 pound ones) and whimpered that I had no insurance. She was immediately sorry; I could tell.

Sensing my advantage, I chose to elaborate. My friends, I decided right then, might be interested to know and perhaps even be upset if I withheld what I believe to be a pivotal time in my life. It is, perhaps, the very slow pivot of a poorly-wound music box ballerina, but I will take it.

As I decided right then. As I decide right now.

Great philosophers have pondered since time immemorial, "Does a screw-up know he's a screw-up? And lo, might I not currently be such a screw-up, and not know of it?"

There are clues. When a relationship fails, when every relationship fails, and in the same way. When work reviews become poorer and poorer. When learning becomes harder and harder. When close friends become fewer and fewer. When night and day become interchangeable. When professors notify that you, in no uncertain terms, have failed. Repeatedly.

"And don't come back," they chime in chorus.

Is it, then, in the nature of a screw-up to be ignorant of their screw-uptitude? For the mark is not just failure, but repeated failure. The try, try, try that brings the fail, fail, fail. The intellectual bohemians who do not measure success by actual success, but only by the length of time they can stave off inevitable failure. Life is not a stream on which merrily we row along. It is a tide. We gasp for air as it ebbs, and drown when it flows. All the while I curse the moon and reassure myself that this is a very romantic place to be, and inevitable anyways so I may as well get used to it.

And, as has been argued by greater men, (I believe it was Joe Camel) "The struggle is enough to fill a man's lungs. Sisyphus is happy."

I am not generally fearful. Occasionally, I go too fast on my motorcycle and I feel what I know is fear. It is quantifiable, almost in direct correlation to the speedometer.

I am not afraid of wolves or people.

The sickly dread I feel now in my bones, the pallor of my heart, the pale tie-dye of terror on my soul is the result of the empty bottle on the floor of my bedroom, and all the others like it tucked on shelf of my writing desk.

Someone I love gave me a commonly prescribed anti-depressant. Though no doctor, this person rightly assumed that a 25-year old probably shouldn't be as sulking and mood-swinging as when they were 15 years old.

I didn't have to mull it over very long. Everything I'd tried, diet, exercise, drinking, not drinking, working hard, and hardly working had done very little.
There was nothing left for me to try short of illegal drugs. My mom would be very sad if I did that. But this way seemed to me a nice little loophole and perfectly suited to my moral style: doing legal things but in an illegal way. Heh, I'm one of the good guys, but in a very technical sense.

I took the pills, as prescribed. I didn't brood over the fact they were prescribed for someone else, after all, some might remember that I had long since developed an equation to determine what I could mathematically consider "mine."

It has been almost six months since I began my treatment. Not to be outdone by mere chemicals, I made a focused effort to be more aware of the emotions that I had shunned long ago but still ruled my behavior with an iron fist. It has been difficult.

Despite my efforts, others noticed before I did. I took it to be a good sign. My main concern, then and still, is to become less than "real." Perhaps to avoid semantic speculation on reality, I should say less than genuine. After all, how am I not myself? And hell, I've tried being myself; maybe it was time to try being someone I imagined.

I can't say when I began to notice a change. I stopped shutting everyone out. I began acknowledging people when they came in the room. Having actual conversations instead of just angry outbursts whenever I felt sufficiently provoked. My memory improved. I began reading again. I was much more patient with the babies. My father and I had long discussions about religion, politics, local and federal laws, our favorite foods, what we thought my brother Miguel was up to, and stories from our respective childhoods.

I began to enjoy myself.

Eventually I felt the urge to test my mental mettle. I got a job as a muffin boy. I performed very well. I was never late to work. I made many friends. I was indefatigable. Multi-tasking, a skill I lacked severely my entire life, began to become second nature.

I was really enjoying myself.

Today, right now, my little bottle is empty ahead of schedule. This is why:

A couple of weeks ago, at my new job as a waiter, I made a mistake. No big deal; hadn't made that mistake since I started but hey, it happens. I seldom write down orders anymore so of course I was going to forget eventually.

The next day, it happened again.

The day after that, I made two mistakes.

And so on. Three, four, five. I started writing down orders again, just to be safe. I felt fear.

A couple of times I caught myself brooding. It's a circular thought process, replaying over and over something that upset me, clutching at straws of anger instead of letting my stress wash through me as I'd been practicing. Now I was terrified.

"God," I prayed to no one. "Please let me keep my mind."

Please put some flowers on Algernon's grave.

I can't go back. Just this feeling now, that I'm slipping, that the gears in my brain are losing teeth, grinding, failing to engage. I didn't expect losing my mind to be so visceral. Some very intelligent people have killed themselves throughout history. I wonder now, how intelligent did they feel before they died? Has anyone ever asked them? Ernest Hemingway's suicide may have been triggered by his increasing memory loss.

If I may offer my humble experience to that of his, I'd imagine that it wouldn't even register in the mind as suicide; it'd be more akin to killing someone you fiercely angered but hardly knew.

The feelings, the chemicals, linger much longer than the gossamer strands of logical thought. The body has its bones but the scaffolding of our minds is much more frail and must hold us not only up, but in every direction and even other dimensions.

I consider intelligence to be the ability to build a bridge from the imagination to reality. To actualize the imagined. Measuring this requires a more subtle test. My mother once wanted me to go to an elite private Catholic school at a time when I was developing a mistrust for the motivations of those in authority, religious or otherwise. When my lack of motivation didn't dissuade her, I didn't move on to open defiance. I simply took the entrance exam, answered enough questions right so it appeared I was trying and then answered the rest incorrectly.

I still feel bad about deceiving my mother. But I don't feel that bad.

Soon I may not have to pretend to be dumb. After my mistakes at work, a bit of research revealed that developing a tolerance for the drug is common. If this trend continued, I should switch to another medication. For me, this may not be an option. My only other choice, as I've been doing, is to increase the dosage. The medication commonly begins at 20mg and increases as needed. I'm up to 40mg. This is the longest I've gone without an increase. I know I'm not being terribly scientific, but everything else about my experience with the drug has been textbook and the literature suggests I have built up a tolerance. So I've been adjusting the dosage myself. Bumping it up to roughly 60 mg and I feel much better. The mistakes at work trickled down to normal levels and snappiness subsided.

And now I'm out. Not surprising as I've been burning my pharmaceutical candle at both ends. In what I'm assuming is my rational state of mind, I know that even if I could increase "my" prescription to 60mg, anything above that would be dangerous, if it already isn't considering NOTHING about me has been monitored by a medical professional.

I'm uncertain as how to proceed. I can accept my tolerance and continue on as best as I can. I doubt I will do this, since I've already spent so much time asleep, so to speak, that I don't want to waste another minute with that nonsense. No, I'm kidding myself even entertaining the idea. I can never go back. The darkness wasn't darkness before, it was just the way it always was and I wasn't afraid of it. But now, the abyss yawns before me and if I fall back in I will scream all the way down to the bottom, if there is a bottom.

So this is where I am. I know this isn't the best way to go about it, but hey, I'm crazy, remember? I just don't want to be mean to the people I love. Or take my frustration out on anyone. A life without love and imagination doesn't seem like much of a life to me. I've forgotten how to hide from it. I can never go back.

So forward it is. I can do this. Failure is not an option. Knowledge is power. Better living through chemistry. Evolve today.

So it goes.