Jun 15 2009
My mind has always seemed to work against me. In my mind I kept remembering things that never happened, but they always seemed so real and so true-way more than the most messed-up deja vu. In my mind I always pictured some ideal, distorted image of both what my past was and what my future would be. In my mind I lived a lifetime in four minutes, cramming a kaleidoscope of hopes and fears into a nondescript neural mush, punctuated only occasionally by brief synaptic jolts of electric panic. In my mind years passed in seconds and every experience compressed itself into a microcosmic caricature of what had actually happened. In my mind the constructive destruction of every searing catharsis and tortured overanalysis always seemed so absolutely necessary, even though I came to learn that all of them would devolve, with increasing speed, into insignificant passing punchlines. In my mind, the universe always had a hidden agenda, and I could never ever forgive or ignore what I wasn’t allowed to know.
Dec 27 2008
Some lucky souls get to remember their dreams, but I’ve never been one of those people. Never recalled any profound truths from random subconscious netherworlds. Never thought that much mattered, though, cause I’ve definitely dealt with some weird hallucinatory shit-usually caused by either controlled substances or some deliriously painful physical injury.
So yeah, an absolutely skewed frame of reference is attempting to run in response to what’s up right now, cause it sure as hell isn’t a dream when I get yanked into lucidity by two pairs of dirty hands. It’s pretty fucking real when I’m wrenched out of the Civic and dumped onto a cracked and ugly part of the Earth’s face that looks an awful lot like an Irvine office park. My flickering field of vision stretches and shrinks with impunity, but everything hurts too much to be a dream.
Nov 12 2008
One time a few years ago I heard some religious people talking about how faith is something that happens when you give up control, when you stop actively trying to affect things, because as they saw it, 1) God controls everything, so why fight that, and 2) it felt so much better to not have to worry about that stuff anyway, right? Even Lisa mumbled irresponsible shit like that from time to time when we were wandering around Chico earlier this year. She spat it out like it was something she wanted to believe but couldn’t quite accept. That made sense from her-she’d had twelve-step mall-harvest Christianity shoveled down her throat so much in her original rehab stint that it was no surprise she’d reflexively spew it back out-but it didn’t make her any less irritating than when she was high.
I was prepared for it by then, though. I hadn’t really understood that silly “let go and let God’ hooey until I flew in a plane for the first time when I was thirteen; when that ten-ton metal death-ship took off, I knew all that separated me from molecular disintegration and fiery doom was the cumulative wisdom of a very mortal pilot up in the cockpit. The violent whims of jealous and vengeful deities never figured into that realization, but I appreciated the metaphor. Well, appreciated it without wanting anything to do with it-I’ll take care of whatever I can control, thanks very much, and God can be in charge of everything else if that makes God happy.
Oct 02 2008
People never pay attention to how their body works, until suddenly it doesn’t. Then they really feel conscious of how bizarre and miraculous and utterly strange that thing is. That thing that imprisons their soul, that throbs and pulses and sweats, that breathes and itches and gurgles and snots and shits. Then they know-when something’s wrong. Then maybe they pay attention and, if they’re not too consumed with fear, they try to do something about it. Of course, sick people are in touch with this reality every minute of every day. Illness connects them to their malfunctioning bodies’ skewed rhythms in ways that health nuts and appearance fetishists will never ever know. The reality of fragile impermanence. The irrefutable truth that this blip of existence is absolutely transient.
Aug 19 2008
“We have to do something about Roy, you know.” Olivia glares at me with resigned frustration, and takes a sip from the red plastic cup in her hand. “Like, now, Derek.” Someone screams behind me, and I hear a crash, but I don’t respond and she glares at me indignantly. Liv makes a point to look over my shoulder at the gathering cyclone across the room, but I don’t want to see it. Roy and I have only been here for a half-hour, but he’s made good time, going from zero to completely blotto faster than anyone had expected. I can hear him now, raving drunkenly at his brother, his girlfriend, and anyone else within a ten-foot radius. I’d thought this suite was massive when we’d first walked in, but that stupid bastard has managed to shrink it to the size of a padded cell.
Aug 08 2008
I’m beginning to think my life is in stuck in a perverse time warp, in some bizarre existential experiment where the control group is off getting massages and facials while I’m marooned once again with Roy, stuck inside a tiny metal box hurtling down Interstate 5 through Downey and La Mirada and Santa Fe Springs. It’s sometime after seven at night and we’re driving into Orange County for the ten millionth time, hurrying to get to Olivia’s birthday party in Capo Beach before its inevitable karmic murder by either A) over-eager, sting-happy cops, or B) excessively enthusiastic underage alcoholism.
Willful participation in such a risk-rich environment is anomalous at best and sheer insanity at worst, even with the indestructible constitution of Roy Reed in tow, because we both need to be back in Santa Barbara at a reasonable hour tomorrow-him for a midterm and me for my own reasons. So no, we shouldn’t be doing this at all, except that if all goes well, I might get to iron some things out with Lisa, the detective will get what he wants, and Roy will be able to safely skate off the thin ice he’s currently on with his Russian-gymnast girlfriend.
Aug 03 2008
I check out of the emergency room early Monday morning, just short of forty-eight hours after blundering into the savage beating that had blown my weekend apart in a frenzy of shame. So much had happened between then and now, but so little of it had penetrated my battered body or wretched state of mind, and simply trying to process everything is now taking up most of my mental power as I limp through the hospital’s massive, hectic waiting room. It’s full of other people’s pain and boredom, but I’ve had too much of both of those things in the past two days to bother with any empathy. I shuffle past the automatic doors toward a bath of impossibly bright sunshine, and the low hum of surrounding commotion inside gives way to the more diluted static outside.
I put some distance between me and the entrance, slumping on a bench fifty feet from the doors. It’s a little warm and my bandages begin to itch as I sweat through them, but I just add that to the massive catalogue of small annoyances that I’ll have to endure before the wounds heal. I resist a temptation to rip the fresh gauze off my face, and am just beginning to sink beneath the haze of muffled aches and pains when an old Datsun pickup suddenly lurches into the loading zone in front of me and rumbles to a halt. The passenger door swings open and a tired, exasperated female voice says “You’re up and out earlier than I thought. Come on Derek, get in. I’ll take you home.” Lisa lifts her eyebrows expectantly, patting the seat with her thin hands, probably hoping that I will yet again be too much of a sucker to not take the bait.
Jun 24 2008
“How’s the view, Haynes?”
A starburst of pain shoots through my skull as Chris Addison laughs with righteous malice, grinding my face into the ice plant near the edge of the cliff. Cars zip by on Coast Highway far below, with the ocean glittering beyond, but the plants’ scent mixes with the smell of my own bleeding nose, and it’s overpowering enough to make my head recoil off the ground.
“Comedown…hereand…seefor…yourself,” I spit in heaves, flecks of clumpy sandstone clinging to my bloody lips. My head is spinning from the initial hit, and my body is beginning to drift into numbness from repeated blows.
Jun 10 2008
Lisa has sneaked out of rehab again. I know this because she is walking right next to me on the Camino Capistrano sidewalk during a bright and glorious mid-morning that has no business showing up in October. We pass by enormous mansions on our left that obscure the million-dollar ocean view, most sporting elegantly severe wrought-iron fences and mechanical gates that don’t even bother to conceal the fear and contempt their owners feel for the world outside. The cloudless sky is disturbed only by a faint breeze and the distant breathing of early beach-going traffic on Coast Highway, far below the sandstone cliffs that fall off behind each palatial estate.
May 27 2008
My head is still swimming from multiple blunt traumas long after Olivia left me in the ruinous fallout of her smackdown. The night is quiet again, but I feel like the whole neighborhood just heard her nuke my self-confidence and curse me with the “stalker” epithet. I try to forget about it as the Civic creeps along Camino Capistrano back down the hill toward Coast Highway. I actually almost banish tonight’s shame with an even more trivial memory that bubbles up: eons ago, I came shamefully close to failing my driving test in this very neighborhood. This is almost too ridiculous to acknowledge, so I try to pay attention to the road as I drive back up the coast to Dana Point.
May 05 2008
Roy lives just a few streets away from me, across the park, but after I drop him off, my headache dials down to a mellow hum, and since it’s not that late, I don’t feel like going home yet. The scenery change I was looking for when I left UCSB earlier today has already degenerated in my mind to an endurance test comprising my depressed mom and annoying little sister, so I drive down Santiago, making my way out of the old neighborhood, passing my house and others identical in form and function. Twenty years has aged some of them gracefully, but most are not flattered by the passage of time.
When I get to Caracas I go left, opposite from where Colin’s old house is when his family still lived here in SoCal. He wouldn’t recognize it now, rendered gargantuan with new additions, so I don’t bother glancing that way as I go, exposed to the intersection’s blind turn. It’s safe, but I can sense the fog filtering in as the night ferments in that unique suburban stillness.
Apr 27 2008
Roy calls me on Friday afternoon around four and says he’ll be ready to go whenever I want to pick him up. I don’t even bother reminding him that he was supposed to meet me at my place, because it doesn’t really matter. I still have a blinding headache from our collision at the game two nights ago and I don’t really need to go anywhere this weekend, especially with Roy in tow, but it’s a good excuse to get away from cleaning up the festive destruction that my roommates inflicted on our apartment.
I pack my overnight bag and try not to think about how much it will suck when I come back Sunday night to deal with the remaining fallout strewn across the apartment’s three tiny rooms. When I get down to the Civic I chuck my bag in the back seat, squeeze in behind the wheel, and just try to chill out a bit and wait for the day’s sixth aspirin to kick in. After ten minutes I still feel lousy so I decide to just get going. It’s not as if my headache wouldn’t return once Roy got in the car.