12/21/16

There’s a lesson in here somewhere

It’s been 11 months since I last blogged. I’m sorry. Did you want your money back? Do you have a receipt?

My rottweiler Dorothy and I moved back to Seattle in April where I reunited briefly with my old ginger boyfriend. We split the rent on an $800 room in a shitty apartment with a nice, normal roommate and his two cats. My boyfriend and I were clearly so incredibly into this thing that we couldn’t stand to sleep in the same bed together. He slept on the bed and I slept with Dorothy on a mattress pulled next to the bed on the floor.

This time in Seattle wasn’t the worst, exactly. I liked riding the bus into the city and looking out the window. Seattle has good restaurants and movie theaters, and you can see Mt Rainier if you’re facing the right direction. On the other hand, everybody thinks they’re better than me in Seattle and there’s nowhere to park. There was never enough money and the ginger boyfriend didn’t love me enough, in my opinion. Point is, I moved back to Michigan and I’ve been here since August.

I live in a house with four of my old friends in Royal Oak, just a few miles north of Detroit. By sheer coincidence, the house is three doors down from my long-dead grandmother’s house, where I spent much of my childhood. There’s a park across the street that I ran away to when I was just a toddler, making everyone in my family believe I’d been kidnapped or killed. Around twenty years later, I tripped on acid in that park with my friend Ian. I remember saying to him, “You’re really weird.” (Projection). He said, “Are you sure it’s not just the drugs, though?” Anyway, now I live across the street from that historic site. Isn’t it cool how you try and try to get away but instead you just spin around in circles? They ought to put up a plaque.

This is the park.

This is the park.

Do you remember when I got sober for 11 months back in 2011-12? Perhaps you read about it in the newspaper. I mean literally, I wrote feature stories about my sobriety for a newspaper in Montana. Then I started drinking and smoking again, and let’s just breeze past this part and say that the last four years have gone steadily downhill from there.

Cut to this labor day in Michigan. My friend Lindsay had a pool party at her parent’s house in Waterford while the folks were out of town. People were getting high and drunk, and then my friend Travis came barrelling in like John Goodman with a shitload of mushrooms for everyone. Hey, I thought. Why the heck not, for old time’s sake, let’s kick this party up a notch. This is just the kind of shit that grown up children in the midwest do.

Hallucinogens don’t sit well with my tummy and never have. I always spend the first half of the night puking. September 5 was no different; I draped myself over the banister and puked in large chunks into the bushes. It felt like I was shooting ping pong balls out of my mouth made of wet dough. Lindsay’s dogs came around and ate the vomit. “Is that okay?” I asked. “Are the dogs going to trip out on my vomit? Is there a doctor in the house?”

It was dark and warm and my friends were sitting around the poolside talking ecstatically. I should clarify: the extroverts were ecstatic while the introverts and I listened helplessly from a private hell inside our bodies. From this place, all of a sudden, “I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity.” It wasn’t a voice or a vision so much as a calm and wonderful knowing that this was the last time. Starting tomorrow, I didn’t have to drink alcohol or do drugs anymore. I felt like Forrest Gump when his idiotic shrimping business takes off and he says, “That’s good. One less thing.”

From there, I wandered aimlessly in and out of Lindsay’s parent’s house, pouring beers down my gullet in a quiet panic sponsored by too many hallucinogens. It was okay, though. I knew it would all be over soon. The party had a hot tub full of party animals. I got inside the tub and dunked my head under to drown out the voices, came back up again, repeat. A man named Frank laughed heartily at everyone’s jokes. From under the water, he sounded like a God. Inside, the non-partiers invariably said: “I wish I’d done slightly fewer mushrooms than I did.” Field studies confirm: However many mushrooms you take in your 30s is just a little too much.

These spontaneous conversions under the influence of psilocybin and other drugs are not so uncommon. Check the scientific literature on it, I don’t know. Quitting forever wasn’t what I was going for, exactly, but I’d been sick for a long time and I did sincerely want to get better. At the very least, I know I went into that party with one of those withered promises to myself of, “I’m going to party hard tonight and then take a serious breather. For like two weeks. OMG you guys, I’m serious.” It’s been 109 days of sobriety, according to this app on my phone, but who’s counting. I’m glad about it and I want to keep at it. This is embarrassing to talk about, and I know I’ve said it before, but just do me a solid and take my word on it this time.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I can start blogging about other things.

For example, Dorothy died the other day. She was ten years old, she had cancer, it happens. She was my destiny and my soulmate and I miss her a lot. The grief is worse than I thought it would be, but what can anybody do but stand it.

She seemed a little depressed about her diminishing condition, but resigned and wise about it, too. Toward the end, she was too weak to stand on her own. It was an honor and a privilege to carry her everywhere. I felt like a firefighter doing something important for a special person. I had her scheduled to be put down on Wednesday but I dug the hole on Sunday because I was afraid the ground would get too cold if I waited. Also, pardon me, is this weird? It’s just that I’ve seen it done so many times in films and the act is so mystical and terrible that I couldn’t resist: I carried her outside and made her watch me dig the hole.

She died the next morning sprawled out on the floor next to me while I finished up writing a review for a critically acclaimed film that I hated. Her teeth were bared in a frozen, half-growl that had little to do with her life. She didn’t vomit or shit or do anything gross. Her body was frozen in place and even then I had to stare and poke at her for a pretty long time; it seemed like she was faking it and still breathing. She looked mean and perfect.

Merry Christmas? Let’s talk again soon.