Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Have Felt Stoned All Day (my longest post ever)!

There was a time when being stoned all day would have been a good thing. Back when I had a life (or if not a life, something like it) I would wake and bake (on my days off.) On a typical Saturday, I might get up and smoke a bowl or two before flopping down on the couch to watch TV for a couple hours. Even on the weekends I rarely slept past eight in the morning.

Around 11, if I had the money, I would catch the bus up to Wedgewood and either get a White Chocolate Mocha, with a shot of vanilla ice cream in it, at Tully's, or if I had more money, get a Belgian waffle and ham, or steak and hash browns, at The Rusty Pelican. Or, if I had even more money, I would get a hamburger and shoestring potatoes at Ebb & Flow (or whatever they were calling themselves that month). Afterward I would stop off at QFC and pick up dinner and snacks before hopping on the bus to go back home.

I would smoke some more weed and play video games on my GameCube or XBOX360 while listening to music, later I might make a CD compilation for a friend for an hour or two before taking a nap.

When I woke up later I could function well enough to cook dinner. If it was just after payday, I would cook a 2 inch thick New York Strip, medium rare, with dinner fries, sautéed mushrooms and garlic, and spinach. On any other Saturday night I would make Spaghetti and Meat Sauce with Garlic Bread, or Macaroni and Cheese with Pork Chops or some other one-dish meal. depending on my budget. Prior to eating I would take the biggest hit of the day before slowly savoring my meal. No matter what I made the weed made the food taste ten times better, like I was having an orgasm in my mouth.

(I wish I had some weed now. Or Macaroni and cheese and pork chops.)

What is making me feel stoned now is not weed, but 10 milligrams of a drug called Dilaudid (hydromorphone). I take it to cope with the chronic pain caused by calciphylaxis. Without it I would scream if anyone touched my legs.

The first time I ever heard of Dilaudid was in the movie Drugstore Cowboy with Matt Dillon, William Burroughs, and a very young Heather Graham. The film takes place in and around 1971 Portland, Oregon. Dillon plays Bob, the leader of a gang who breaks into pharmacies to steal prescription drugs. Towards the end of the film, Bob is trying to go straight and dry out. His ex-wife, and partner in crime, Diane (Kelly Lynch) shows up at his flea bag hotel to tempt him back into the life and as she leaves she gives him a little vile of Dilaudid as a goodbye present, which Bob does not want, but takes it anyway and gives it to his friend, a very old man named "Tom the Priest" (played by William Burroughs). I remember that Tom laid down some wise and heavy dialogue about life, and Dilaudid, but I don't remember what he said, just that it was heavy and wise. Then more stuff happens; I don't want to give away the ending. It's a great movie. I've been meaning to get it on DVD.

Anyway, I now associate Dilaudid, indirectly, to William Burroughs, who wrote The Naked Lunch, and the semi-autobiographical Junkie. Junkie recounts Burroughs period as a heavy heroin user, so, therefore, I associate Dilaudid with Burroughs and heroin. As it turns out, Dilaudid is a closer relative to morphine, than it is to heroin, but they all basically have the same effects. They diminish pain but also cause confusion, dry mouth constipation, etcetera, etcetera.

I do not understand how anyone can be addicted to heroin, or any of its cousins, at least on a recreational level. I understand, like all pain killers, it is chemically and psychologically addictive. I accept that which is why I don't to take it for long. As soon as my latest wounds heal I will stop taking it until the next wound occurs. Hopefully not for a long time.

But I don't understand why people take Dilaudud, and by extension, morphine or heroin, as a recreational drug. It's true, I am taking pills rather than shooting Dilaudid directly in my veins; and perhaps the dose I am taking is far less than what a junkie takes, but this is the most boring drug I have ever had. It works for the pain, and that's all I really should expect or hope for but all I know is that it makes me feel tired all the time. By four in the afternoon I am ready to go to sleep. That's nine hours after my morning dose. I feel dizzy and everything seems far away. I feel like I am going too fast in my chair, which is saying a lot for me, the nursing home "Speed Demon." It reminds me of the time I drove home from Tacoma after a Grateful Dead and Santana concert while on mushrooms (I had taken them much earlier) and I thought I was flying on I-5 south, headed for Lacey, when I looked down to discover I was only going 14 miles an hour. Once again I am lucky to be alive).

Dilaudid also makes me real fidgety, like a squirrel trying to open a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. I get confused as to what I was about to say or do. I am afraid I am going to turn into one of the many demented people here.

I want the pain to stop so I don't have to keep taking this damned drug. Or I wish it to be a lot easier to get "medical marijuana" because that is the only other remedy that makes my pain bearable, and I find it a lot easier to deal with people and situations on weed than I do on Dilaudid. As long as I am on the drug I will be "disabled" because I don't think I would be fit to work in an office. My attention span is for shit and I am easily distracted. This post itself is a laborious process that is taking way too long to write and, though, I will do my best to edit it, I fear it will be filled with typographical, grammatical errors, and wandering thoughts.

It is possible, that if I was left completely alone in my room, and there was no danger of a nurse or someone else bursting in, and if I didn't have a semi-suicidal roommate laying no more than six feet of me, I could lay back and enjoy some music (I just bought the deluxe, 10th Anniversary, two-disc version of Pavement's Brighten The Corners and am dying to listen to it) before settling down to watch new episodes of The Office and 30 Rock.


Where was I? Man, I feel stoned. I don't like it. It's taking much too long. And, as I have said over and over again, I don't like this place. It's too loud. It smells bad. It's full of too many cranky old people who yell about everything all the time. It is impossible to relax. As Michael Scott on The Office would say, they are "harshing my mellow."


No big news stories today, just continuations of older stories; the governor of Illinois is still a sleaze bag, they might have found a body of a little girl who has been missing, like forever, (I think Nancy Grace had devoted every episode of her repugnant show on this poor little girl's disappearance; on her totally unsympathetic mother and the girl's deluded grandparents. And perhaps the biggest story is that the Auto company bail out has collapsed because the UAW (United Auto Workers union) could not accept the contract because the fucking Republicans tried to use the situation to bust the union. (As I commented in the Slog, "There is something fishy going on when rich desk jockeys keep their jobs and salaries while Wall Street gets bailed out; meanwhile, the working man, whose companies are asking for a fraction of the money the financial companies got, were kicked in the ass and shown the door by Republican Senators, unless the workers all but disband the UAW.")

The other thing worth noting in today's Slog were a couple of unrelated stories about book banning. First, a high school in upstate New York had assigned Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen to read, and some (one) parent objected to a paragraph in the book that mentioned or depicted girl-on-boy oral sex. The school district had all the copies confiscated and then ripped out the "offending" pages before returning the books to the students. Apparently the school district thought this was a way they could get around accusations of censorship since they didn't actually ban the book, just a couple pages. A few hours later, I read on Slog that famed Pacific Northwest and Native American writer Sherman Alexie's semi-autobiographical book, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was banned in Bend, Oregon because a parent thought it "trashy." and "not fit for a fifty-year old to read." Apparently there is a reference to masturbation and the man didn't want his son or any other teenager in the school to know of masturbation's existence.

I hate it when books are banned, or worse, burned or destroyed in some way. I don't care if it's the Bible, Mein Kampf, or the "White Album" you don't destroy ideas no matter how much you disagree with them. It only makes those things more attractive to curious minds. I hadn't planned to, but now I am tempted to buy Alexi's and Kaysen's books (though Kaysen's would probably sit on the shelf). It bothers me how one parent can get a book banned from a library. Assuming this was an average high school class size, there were probably 40 kids in the class, times, maybe, four classes a day that were to read Girl Interrupted. That's 240 parents times 1,5 (allowing for divorce). That means 359 parents did not have a problem with the book their kid s were assigned to read. Unfortunately these parents were also too lazy to go to the PTA or School Board meetings to prevent the book from being banned.

I started reading fairly advanced reading at an early age. When I was in kindergarten , I was tested and had the reading aptitude of someone in the ninth grade. They wanted to skip me all the way to the third grade, but my father wouldn't have it. "I don't want a kid smarter than me" he told my mother. I don't think much danger in that. In fact, I believe that after a week of third grade, I would have been sent back (maybe not back to kindergarten but at least as far back as first grade) because I couldn't keep up with the math and science. I just liked to read and write stories. There are no 9-year old "Doogie Howsers" studying english at Harvard. I might have had a ninth grade reading level back then but could barely do much more than basic math (add, subtract, multiply, and divide) and I was pretty incurious about science, though I thought Astronomy and Oceanography "pretty." It's 34 years later I now have the reading level of a 45-year old and the math skill level of, and I'll be generous, and eighth grader. With the exception of some experience with fractions, percentages, and decimals, I never progressed with math much farter than eighth grade (I dropped out of school in the ninth). I know next to nothing about geometry or algebra, and forget about trigonometry or calculus.

I have a bit of a phobia for numbers. Not any numbers in particular. I don't have problems with numbers, such as, 13, 23, or 666, I just don't lmuch use for them other than counting, like how to figure out how much something costs including tax or what to tip? Don't ask me to do a Sudoku puzzle. I am very good at crosswords and do several New York Times Crossword Puzzles every day, but when I look at a Sudoku puzzle I just freeze up. My trepidation with numbers has prevented me from going int0 careers that interest me, like architecture, engineering, or computer programming. Likewise, the fact that I can't draw a decent circle prevents me from being an illustrator or graphic designer.

As far as reading is concerned, next to listening to music, it was my favorite activity as a kid. I have early memories, when I was four- or five-years old, reading Dr. Seuss and Peanuts. Shortly after, when I was laid up in the hospital for what seemed like a year, between issues of Archie and Richie Rich, I read books about how things work, or, when I was visiting my father's parents house, I read Popular Science and National Geographic (they had every issue going back to the 1920s). Before I entered the first grade I had read every Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery that were out there.

I also have fond memories of getting my first library card and being part of one of those "How many books can you read this summer" programs where you had to read at least one book every week and write a report and get a quarter for every legitimate report you handed in. I made enough money that summer to buy Magical Mystery Tour on vinyl and some Radio Shack truck-driving songs collection on 8-Track (about eight bucks).

In fourth grade, I was 10 at the time, we had this year-long project where, for every book report written, a circular piece of purple or pink paper with the reader's name and the name of the book they read would be pasted on the wall to form the segments of a caterpillar. The goal was that at the end of nine months, or the end of the school year, the caterpillar would circle the entire room. I can't remember if we actually managed to do that, I think we did; I just remember reading a lot of books that year, at least 30.

Everyday kids who turned in a report that day were asked what book they read, and sometimes the teacher would ask them to read their book report to the class. The first time I read a report was for a book (a biography for "young teens") I found in the school library about Shirley Muldowney, the first woman drag racer. I got an "A." Next I read books from the same series about the Flying Tigers, Roy Campanella, and the real Tazmanian Devil. I got A's on all of the reports. Then I read so many books based on TV Shows (Get Smart, Star Trek, Partridge Family) and was turning in a book report almost every day. My teacher thought these books were beneath my level, but still gave me A's. Bt she wanted me to read even more challenging work. No more books based on TV shows.

The next book I read, and the only report I was allowed to read out loud was for The Call of the Wild by Jack London, (which I would be assigned to read again in the eighth grade.) I had such stage fright standing up in front of the class that I almost passed out. To the kids I came off as dumb, so I had to endure being called stupid for a little while (longer by the few assholes in the class).

My teacher said that since I wouldn't be required to read in front of the class again, she encouraged me to read whatever I wanted, as long as it was a book and was "challenging." I didn't exactly know what she meant. I hoped she didn't want me to try and read something as "thick "as War & Peace or Moby Dick, two books I still have in storage, spines uncracked.

I don't remember all the books I read, but I do remember reading books with interesting covers, like M*A*S*H* by Richard Hooker (and all it's literary sequels), Joseph Heller's Catch 22 for the first time (still my all time favorite book); The Chosen and The Promise by Chaim Potok, and a lot of mysteries, mainly the 87th Precinct books by Ed McBain, the Fletch books by Gregory MacDonald, and several mysteries by Agatha Christie. I got an A for the entire class (perhaps the last one I would get until college).

The two books I remember reading that I didn't report on that year were The Harrad Experiment and Fear of Flying, which I bought, because of the covers, at Goodwill (where I bought most of my books and records back then).

I read a lot, mostly because I liked it, but also because my mother read a lot. She read a lot! Mostly romance novels and some mysteries. A lot of the pictures depicted long-haired women running away from spook mansions or spooky castles. Besides reading authors like Barbara Cartland, Daphne Du Maurier, and Dorothy L. Sayers, she subscribed to the Harlequin romance novels and all their imprints and she read them all (about 12 books a week).

As I do with some rock bands, when it came to her favorite authors, she was a completist. She even bought a book that was essentially a check list of every book Harlequin ever published and she collected then all. Towards the end of her life I turned her on to Stephen King, and a Star Trek novel (Ishmael by Barbara Hambly) which was a romance story between Spock and a character from the TV series Here Comes The Brides, which took place in Seattle during the late 19th century. She then proceeded to read all the Star Trek books and even planned on trying her hand at writing one herself before she got sick. She had planned on attending her first Star Trek convention, along with several of her Trekkie workmates when she passed away in January 1990.

When she passed away I was able to get a ton of credit at a bookstore for all her sci-fi and horror and, my grandfather's westerns, but the 5,000 (!) romance novels she had were worthless. Goodwill didn't even want them. I agreed to give away most of my mother's furniture in exchange for the hauler to take the books away. I suspect they wound up in a landfill, where they are still rotting away. Had I known EBay would have existed 15 years later I would have still thrown them away because I didn't want to haul that shit.

I kind of stopped reading after that. I have bought a lot of books since she died, I've started many of them and finished a few, but my interest in books sort of faded away. This was about the point in my life when I started smoking weed every day.

Speaking of which, I am not that stoned anymore and it's a quarter to nine. One of the nuts in the hall is trying to escape and the alarm on his chair is beeping incessantly. The Office, followed by 30 Rock starts in fifteen.

I haven't received my presents from Paul yet. Amazon says it was delivered. but I don't have it and Amazon won't tell either of us what address it was delivered. If I have to I will buy the books myself so, in theory, Paul's money won't have been wasted. Because of the way the Amazon's Wish List works I already know what I he bought me so they will be easy to replace. I am looking forward to reading again.

Well, now it is almost 11:30 p.m. and The Daily Show is almost over. (I took time out to watch The Office and 30 Rock and it was one of the funniest episodes of The Office ever!)

I will try to get some sleep after the Colbert Report, but right now I am wide awake, and so is Danny. He says his brother will be taking him home tomorrow around lunch time. Despite the fact that he cries in pain whenever he goes to the bathroom and can barely put his clothes on, he is determined to go home tomorrow. I can understand his position. Whether the cancer gets him a month or year from now or he starves himself to death in a week or two, this place is no place to die. A staff member's mother had a heart attack two states away today and everyone freaked out (understandably). But a body being wheeled out to a waiting hearse barely gets a "tut-tut." It's seems like a daily event. I don't want to think about it.

I wish I were stoned.


As I was turning off the computer I discovered that Bettie Page, perhaps the most famous pin-up of the 1950s passed away at the age of 85. She was a study of contrasts a devout Christian and Playboys January 1955 Playmate of the month (see below).

If you want to see an excellent movie based on her life, rent The Notorious Bettie Page starring Gretchen Moll. When the movie came out, Bettie came out of seclusion to grant interviews and dispel rumors, the latest of these I could find was this Los Angeles Times interview from 2006 when she was 82.

Another Update

It is three a.m. and I have been writing, editing, adding links (please check them out when you have a day to kill). I'll probably go through yesterday's Slog one more time before I go to sleep. That might take an hour. (Oh, shit! Crazy Alice just turned her TV on next door so I am not going to get any sleep.)

Final FINAL Update (I promise)

It's 4:20 in the morning. Everything is so blurry I can hardly see. I just finished writing a final comment on The Slog when I noticed what time it is. Click 4:20 for those of you not in the know and you'll get why I say "I feel so stoned right now" (due to being up all night).

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