A Day in the Life

It’s a beautiful Yuma, Arizona morning. It is a February –the cold part of winter is over- kind of morning. The blazing summer heat will come soon enough, but this day the weather is perfect. On th…

Source: A Day in the Life

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Argument

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“Why is your face so red?” people ask you this from time to time. Usually you ask them why they are whatever color they are. You tell them it is just the way your skin is, you blame it on your heritage. A lot of it has to do with your skin being fair, and burning easily in the sun, but you have an idea as to why you usually look like a strawberry. You believe the issue lies with your blood pressure. If you were more calm, more mellow, if you knew how to relax, you doubt your face would look so flushed. Attempts to become more chill have been made, you stylized yourself after the Jeff Bridges character  in The Big Lebowski, The Dude. His lazy, do nothing personality turned some people off, but you were entranced by his calm persona. More often than not you find yourself acting like John Goodman’s character from the same movie. Always exploding, always shouting, never relaxed. You wonder why so many of your conversations become arguments. A friend asked you once if you felt that everyday was a struggle with other people and you told him, yes. He looked hard at you and with a sense of honesty asked, “ Does it wear you down? Does it make you tired?” Why do you find yourself repeatedly in tense conversations that you want so very badly to avoid?

 

The heated words in your arguments are usually the same. Take whatever the particular situation is, and add on used and worn out taglines, and there you have the ingredients for a terrible debate. At some point, usually only a few minutes in, either you or your opponent will say, “ I wish you would stop cutting me off!” and the other person will accuse the speaker of the exact same crime. In almost every, “conversation,” one person is hardheaded and will only say the word, “No.” The responses become overlapped, neither of the participants are giving any thought to what the other is saying, at this segment. Every time this happens your head begins to hurt and wonder if the other person feels the same, and you think it would be nice to just walk away and find a place to take a nap.  Most arguments are settled by a third party, someone who walks into the whirlwind and tries to restore order. Usually they know little of the actual situation and are forced to try to make sense of both you and your adversary’s jumbled and angry side of the story. By this point even if you do get your way, the victory feels more like guiltiness. You did it again. You made another living being angry enough to shout, to have veins bulge on their temple, to match their skin tone to your redness. Then comes the self pity, without fail, every time

 

For you the argument doesn’t really end when the shouting has subsided. You take the fight home with you and mull over the words that were exchanged. You become angry when you recall the attitude of the person you were disagreeing with. You replay the debate over and over in your mind trying to assess where it all went wrong. Usually you find that you were not in the right, or at least not completely, and this infuriates you. There is little worse than when you have made a big stink, thrown a tantrum, only to find out you were the one in the wrong to begin with. You fantasize of moving to some secluded woods, far away from the rest of society. Learning to speak more clearly and be slow to anger, does not seem like a workable option, now does it? No, you need to completely isolate yourself. The older you get, the more tired you become of these childish rituals. You wish you would just grow up already, and you know the people around you share your desire.

 

You desperately want to master the art of civil discourse. Whether the conversation is with someone who greatly surpasses your intelligence or your speaking with a complete dolt, you want the speech to be kind and full of understanding. Who starts the shouting in your arguments, is it you or the other unhappy individual? Does it really matter? If someone is full on shouting at you, you should be able to have self control and not match their levels. Even better, you should be able to speak with someone without driving them to the point of raising their voices. Having no desire to be described as an angry young man, you strive to learn how to be a peaceful soul. You want people to be blessed by your presence instead of dreading your arrival. So what’s next? Continue to work on  the way you interact with others, starting with listening a whole lot more than speaking? Or maybe move into the woods, embrace the seclusion and talk only to the wild life; chances are you will piss them off too, or die from eating poison berries.

Daydream

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Aaron sat on a metal chair by the computers in the center. He felt rather dapper with his new haircut. He had shaved his head and in his mind he looked like a tough, bad-ass mafia dude.  When he saw you writing this he became angry, his skin turned green, his shirt shredded as muscles bulged, he was secretly Bruce Banner! He lunged at you and punched you in the shoulder. Stunned you fell over and it took you a minute to feel well enough to continue writing. Aaron was now furious, he drove both of his fists into your chest. You gripped the desk with your left hand and with your right hand slowly continued  to type. Aaron, the giant beast that he was, kicked you in the shins. Your legs felt weak, you pleaded for mercy, Aaron showed you none. You toppled over the stool you were sitting on and fell on your back on the floor. Aaron leapt up, tucked his left arm in and landed hard on your chest. Air left your lungs, you gasped. Aaron got you in a headlock and bellowed, “Don’t you ever fuckin’ write about me you filthy lunatic!” Then Glenda walked up and asked if she could join in. She kicked you repeatedly in the face. As your nose poured forth a dark river of blood, you somehow were able to get back on to your stool and sluggishly record more of the moment into your word processor. Then Eunice shouting something similar to a battle cry, socked you in the eye. On your right Sarah became jealous of the action and began to throw sharp jewelry at you. Shannon even jumped in, hitting you with newspapers. Your vision blurred, your stomach felt sick, as Sarah sang System of a Down lyrics aloud, with her tongue out and a deranged smile on her face she shoved you to the ground. Aaron grabbed a nearby flame thrower and doused you in fire. Daniel dug a hole in the alley and the group dragged your body to it. They buried you and washed their hands clean of you that day. But then a funny thing happened. The computer, blood soaked keys, left on with the account of your last moments alive blasted across the monitor, refused to shut down. It was as if your spirit now embodied the machine. It was rebooted, unplugged, debugged, yet it refused to display anything upon it’s warped screen, besides your final entry. Finally the computer was thrown away, with the words still bleeding through, for an audience of none.

Car Crash and Pain Pills

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In mid 2013 you moved to Chandler, Arizona. One of your best friends was working/living up there and had recently fallen into financial difficulties. She called in tears one night while you were working as a security guard in Yuma. She described herself living in a large two bedroom apartment with only a bed and she found herself lying on the empty living room floor most nights. Her boyfriend had left her and without his income she was unable to afford the apartment. She was lonely and in a state of depression. You then, hated Yuma, loved her, and saw no reason not to use this situation as a means of escape from your small town. So you sold your car, quit your job, packed all of your belongings into the back of a friend’s truck, and started a new life in Chandler.

You settled in nicely to your new city. Your roommate helped you get a job at PayPal, where she worked. You were even able to get the same shift as her, so carpool was simple. You made friends at local coffee shops, and got involved in open mic nights. Twice a week you would get on stage and perform your silly songs with your new friends. You would have a ten minute slot to play and for that allotted amount of time you felt free, you felt invincible. One time  you got a handful of musicians to do a surfing song by Weezer and you and the drummer (the admittedly two largest people in the group) decided to play without your shirts on. The crowd loved it, they laughed and applauded your oddness. For once in your life you felt like your weight problem did not make you less of a person then everyone else, which consequently led to you losing over eighty pounds! Once you did not obsess about your weight it became easy to lose some of it. Life was exciting, life was fun, and you were happy. You did well on your job and you were making more money than you ever had. When you were not working, you and your roommate did everything together, which usually involved drinking. The two of you became staples at the local bars, spending almost every penny you earned that was not already allocated for bills. You threw huge parties in your apartment where your co workers would fill your living space with laughter and drinking. Usually most of the people would end up sleeping in the living room or in either of the two bedrooms till the next morning when they would all return to PayPal to work their shifts. The first party you and your roommate had, you posted a picture of the inside of your fridge showing that there was more beer than food, and that was before your guests showed up with even more alcohol! Life was full of amazing friends and great moments. Still you knew the good times could not last, as they never did. You could see cracks forming in you and your roommates friendship and knew a break was inevitable.

Perhaps you and your roommate grew tired of each other because you were never really ever apart. You have said to yourself and others, “I cannot stand being with myself for twenty-four hours a day, let alone anyone else.” Or maybe it was because you two were fundamentally different; you came to her in her time of depression, and she is normally a happy individual, whereas you are usually quite pessimistic. It could have had something to do with you bringing over a mean-spirited girlfriend to the apartment, or because you unintentionally chased off all your roommates love interests. It was most likely a combination of it all, but regardless, you and your good friend decided to split ways. You moved to a one bedroom apartment and started carpooling with other coworkers. It was a few months into 2014 and you were once again all on your own.

On one of your days off you walked to the Wal-Mart close to your apartment and bought yourself a mountain bike. It was a six-mile trip between your apartment and your job, so on the same day you took a test ride to see how long it would take you to get to work. That day the sun was bright but the air was cool with a beautiful light breeze blowing on you as you rode.  You had your headphones in, jamming to your favorite tunes. You can visualize the ride, you remember the day, you can think back and see it all, up until the point everything went black. You were in the crosswalk with  the right away, by the Chandler Fashion Center, the town mall, about a half a mile away from PayPal when the lights went out.

You woke up in a strange room, lying in a bed experiencing excruciating pain, with no idea what had happened to you. A male nurse walked into the hospital room and informed you that your parents were on their way from Yuma. You drifted in and out of consciousness, partly because of the pain, and because the doctors administered strong pain management drugs into your  system. Your mother and father arrived and more became clear to you. They told you that about five hours before you were struck by a car going forty-five miles per hour. You had been thrown from your bicycle, busted the windshield with your forehead, went flying over the vehicle and finally scraped across the street before coming to a complete stop. Your mother asked you if you had noticed that all your nurses were male? You had not, and she then explained that when you had come to after the accident, you were combative and the female staff had not felt safe around you. You had a concussion and your back was split open from top to bottom on your left side, but you were alive. The police officer that had responded to the scene would later tell you that when he arrived he assumed you were dead.

You remember being in the hospital in a state of panic. You were suffering from a concussion and obviously not thinking clearly. You became worried that if you were going to stay in the hospital, that your parents would go to your apartment and find your cigarettes. You also had it in your mind that you would lose your job if you did not get back to work that same week. You argued with the doctor and against the hospital’s wishes you were released the next day. Your parents stayed with you a few days and begged you to let your mother stay with you for a week to take care of you. You were scared and confused and just wanted life to go back to normal. So you thanked your parents, sent them back home and tried to pretend everything was okay.

Your first week back to work was a joke. Your face looked like something out of a horror film, and you were not all there mentally. You would barely make it a couple of hours into your shift before you would need to be sent home. You were more tired than you had ever been in your life, and in desperate need of help, but you refused to go get it. You have always been hard-headed and you expected your body to recover and  for things to settle back to how they usually were. Your job was over the phone customer service and you had been very good at it. Before the accident you viewed angry customers as a fun challenge and worked hard to calm them down and leave them feeling better by the end of the call, but the wreck changed things. Now when customers called and yelled at you, you took it personally. You would get angry back at your clients and then blow up on your supervisors for trying to correct you. Needless to say, after a few months of this behavior, your position at PayPal was terminated.

You tried unsuccessfully for months to find another job. When you were not looking for work, you laid in bed in pain. You relied on weed and pain meds to keep you going. You still played your guitar at open mics, but your energy and drive was gone. You had no vehicle, no money and no way to get to a doctor. You went several times to nearby urgent care, but they told you that you needed to get a primary care physician. On a particularly hard night you got a bus ride to the emergency room and told them that because of all the pain you had put serious thought into jumping in front of a moving vehicle. In your mind you had messed up by having yourself released early from the hospital the first time around. Maybe if you got hit again, this time, you could get the help you needed. Those were the confused thoughts running through your head at that time. The hospital placed you in a behavioral health clinic where you stayed for a week. In the clinic they only focused on depression and gave you many antidepressants and mood stabilizers, but nothing for the pain. After being released you went back to looking for employment. After falling asleep on the bus taking you to an interview, you woke up in the wrong side of town, and knew you couldn’t keep doing this, you needed help.

You moved back into your parents house in Yuma, where you stayed for four months. You were able to get your old job back and even moved back into the old apartment you had before moving to Chandler. Unfortunately you were unable to keep up with the tasks your occupation required. You called in at least once a week  and even spent four days in the hospital after suffering from heat exhaustion. Your boss tried his best to work with you and your health concerns, but after a month short of a year of working for them, you were let go. Your landlord was kind and gave you the time to find another means for paying rent. Four months went by, nothing changed. You ate pain meds like they were candy and smoked marijuana on a daily basis. You spent most of your time lying in bed watching Law & Order SVU reruns,trying to avoid the real world, full of terror. At the end of the fourth month of unemployment you felt your landlord was losing patience. You knew soon that he would have no choice but to evict you. You had not had a good night’s sleep in weeks and you saw no hope of things changing for the better. So you took a huge amount of hydrocodone and figured you would fall asleep soon, either you would wake up or you wouldn’t. Sleep did not come. Instead you started experiencing violent chest pains and your heart was beating so fast you felt your death was near. You called Nursewise and they sent an ambulance that rushed you to the hospital. The hospital monitored your vitals and decided to send you to another behavior health clinic.

Many things happened while you were in the behavioral clinic. Your Landlord evicted you and your parents had to move all of your belongings out of your apartment. Every time you talked to your mother on the phone she was kind and supportive, but you could tell she was hurt, confused and angry. Some good came of the stay in the clinic, you found a second wind. You felt you had a new lease on life. You realized that between the car accident and overdoing the pain pills that there is no good reason why you shouldn’t already be dead. If there is something out there, not giving up on you, then you should not either. You began attending meetings, meeting with counselors, and working on yourself.

After your visit in the clinic, you returned to Yuma with no place to call home. You stayed at the local homeless shelter for two weeks and then got yourself into a recovery home. You still suffer from constant pain, your head feels like someone hit it with a two-by-four most days, and you have to fight strong paranoia that somehow the floor will fall out from beneath you at any moment. You still ride a bicycle although you feel terrified every time you do so. You work on making yourself more stable, but it never seems like you are accomplishing enough. You fear you will never have a handle on life, but you have decided to keep trying until it gets better, or it gets worse, either way. You are thankful to be breathing at all and ever grateful  for  the family and friends who did not give up on you. Life hits hard and you know there is little that anyone can do about it. You tell yourself you are excited to see what will happen next in this crazy journey of yours, and for the most part this is true.

Center yourself, Don’t be self centered

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The lady sits on a folding chair inside of the Turtle Bay Cafe conference room. The space also serves as a classroom for the Turtle Bay Jobtec Program, and a meeting area for various recovery based support programs. She is wearing everyday attire, white pants and a black t-shirt. She looks decent and normal if you met her two storefronts over at the Transitional Living Center Recovery, or even the dining area of the cafe itself. However she is severely under-dressed for any normal employment interview. The TLCR dress code is casual, the employees are required to wear company polos and given free choice on the rest of their outfit. So maybe she is making a bold entrance, showing her awareness of the company dress code. Or maybe she is showing a softer side of herself, allowing the interviewees to be more focused on her words. “I am so sorry I am not dressed up for the interview! I did not know it would be today!” she says and chuckles nervously. Well. Never mind.

The hiring committee this day consists of one female and two males. The older of the two men, who is an active member of the hiring committee, asks the usual interview questions. What can you tell us about yourself? Do you have a driver’s license? And then there are the odd questions; What is your favorite topping to put on a sundae? What is your favorite type of gecko? The last thing TLCR needs is an impatient, harsh personality riling up an already tense setting. So as she answers the questions, you are taking notes and listening critically. How quickly does she respond to questions? Does she take a second to think about what she is asked, how she will answer, or does she fire forward with her responses? You personally feel suspicious when someone always has the answer straight away. Does anyone remember speed reading? This is speed listening. The person listens to enough of the sentence to get the gist of it, and then is able to start working on their response in their head before the question is fully asked. Some people are so good at this they can start formulating their retort after only hearing three words! While others more well versed in the art of speed listening are seemingly able to know what the other person’s question/ statement is before they even say it; allowing the speed listener to not be hassled by any of pesky words coming out of the other person’s mouth.  

The panel style interview is not new to you, but when you have participated in similar interviews in the past you have always been the one in the hot seat, trying to impress the interviewers. This can be nerve racking, attempting to show your best qualities to a group of strangers while trying not to waste time guessing what they are thinking about you. The Turtle Bay Cafe offers a mock interview class to members of the Jobtec. The atmosphere is light and upbeat. Everyone in the room speaks freely and there is no real pressure. Not like today. For the lady to be able to proceed on to the second interview she will need a majority of the member’s votes. As she speaks she is fully aware that the TLC members are scribbling notes that will impact the next step in her career path. So as much as you try to be objective and critical, you cannot forget the human side of all of this. You have been where she is sitting and it is not always the easiest to remain calm, cool and collected during the hiring process.

The woman answers all of the questions. “All right you are free to go. Have a good day. This is the point where we talk about you,” the older man  tells her lightheartedly, with a playful smile on his face. She apologizes again about her attire and gets up to leave and this is when you understand why she has been so uncomfortable about her clothing. As she heads to the door, you and the hiring committee are able to see the back of her shirt for the first time. It’s an ordinary t-shirt that has been modified in the back with large strips cut out of it revealing much of her back. It takes all your will power to remain quiet and not laugh out loud. Yes, her outfit is wildly inappropriate for an interview setting, but you also have to factor in how the hiring committee is dressed. Everyone is in plain street clothing and you, yourself, are wearing basketball shorts. Similar to her, you did not know there would be an interview today.

As far as your decision process goes, she did not have a tail, her skin was not covered in translucent scales, she did not breath fire or have another other attributes commonly associated with dragons, you decide to vote that she go on to a second interview. This is the first time meeting her; you do not really know what type of person she is. She could be an amazing addition to TLCR staff, or she could be the reincarnation of Hitler for all you know. All you can do is hope for the best and like the peer support Mike has said to you in the past, “If hope is all you have, you can’t afford to lose it.” So the woman leaves hoping to be hired, and the members sit hoping they made the right decision in giving her the green light.

Maui’s Story

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It was mid February and for the first time in your life you were homeless. You were staying at the Crossroads Mission, a local homeless shelter, and desperately looking for a way out. The Mission had transported you to a fish restaurant where you were going to have a job interview later that day. You were dressed up and early, with nowhere to go.  Outside of a building near the restaurant stood a group of people smoking cigarettes, so you walked over to them and asked them for a smoke. A Hawaiian man, who was larger than life in every way ( tall, big, huge smile) introduced himself to you as Maui. You asked him what the facility you and he were standing in front of was. Maui went on to explain what the Transitional Living Center Recovery was and what services they provided. He asked you questions about yourself; How are you? What happened that made you end up in the situation you were in? You remember feeling a sense of comfort. You had all but forgotten about normal conversations and friendly personalities. You explained that you were there for a job interview at the fish restaurant next door, and Maui asked if you had a resume. You did, but not a copy that you could give at the interview. He then led you into the the TLCR, helped you print out several copies, and told you to come back after the interview.

After the interview you returned to the TLCR to find out more about the facility. Maui was there and he introduced you to staff, who then helped you with paperwork to become part of the group. You were beside yourself, you had no idea there was such a place that helped people like you. Up to that point you had decided that you were truly all alone in the world. You figured you would have to struggle by yourself to get out of the rut you had found yourself in. The TLCR employee showed you around and told you about some of the programs they offered; one of which was a Smart Recovery meeting they were having that day. You went to that meeting and there you saw Maui again. He welcomed you and the whole atmosphere of the place seemed inviting.

Fast forward to now, months later and you are now living in one of the recovery homes and apart of many groups that they provide at TLCR. You have made many friends and positive relationships with staff members, all of which are dedicated to helping you in your recovery, but Maui will always hold a special place in your heart. You see him almost every day, and unless he is deathly ill, you can always count on him to have a giant smile on his face. He is a man who has decided to be a kind oasis in a desert of negativity. You know you will always be able to come to him with your problems and attitudes and he will not only listen, but be supportive. He works with you to come up with solutions to your issues. You were so surprised when you first came to find out he wasn’t staff, but a member of the organization. In your experience in life, people only seem to help one another when it somehow benefits themselves, which is the reason individuals like Maui should be considered selfless and amazing human beings. Imagine if today’s society was able to absorb even a small piece of his caring nature, what a world of difference it would make.

Rant

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You have anger issues. You are quick to judge others, but rarely see your own faults.When people mess up you want them to know it; you want the situation corrected immediately. When you are at fault you want others to be patient with you, forgiving of you. You are unpredictable, unstable, and easily upset. You are not paranoid in the usual sense; you do not feel that everyone is out to get you. Instead you know that at the end of the day everyone  is concerned with their own lives, and that if you are in the way you will be stepped on/over, which makes you paranoid. You have little to no self worth. You expect everyone to give up on you, because if you were them you would have given up on yourself a long time ago. You feel that life is a never ending process of striving to be relevant, to have meaning. When in reality the world would not stop spinning if you died today. You fail to see how you are crucial to anything. You tell yourself that even if you were successful in life it would mean nothing, just another pathetic human who thinks they have purpose. In the grand scheme of things you struggle to see how you matter at all. You do not think of being a better person for yourself; you think of being a better person in terms of people will stop harassing you to be better. Your whole life you have not tried to be the best you can be; you have figured out where the line of acceptability is and cozied into it. You have but one life to live, and if you had your way you would sleep through most of it. You are terrified of the concept of being in any sort of trouble. You tend to not try new things for fear of an unsuccessful outcome. You are unsatisfied with yourself. You hold such low esteem towards yourself. When others try to help you, you push them away at the slightest feeling of discomfort, and then question why you are, “always” by yourself. You make fun of other’s problems but hate when you are mocked. You are a hypocrite. You have no problem talking trash about others but you are the most offended when anything critical is said about you. You make no sense. If you truly believe that you do not matter, that none of this matters, then why not be more laid back? Why do you obsess over being control in every situation when you are smart enough to know that you have no control over anything? If nothing really matters why not go for broke in every endeavor; who cares if you fail? Why has it taken a quarter of a century to decide you should do something, anything? Did you have any dreams growing up? Did you want to be something; why didn’t you try? You are a living example of the old worn out saying, “If you aim for nothing you will hit it every time.” So this is a plea. Do something, make some positive steps, try at the very least. Find the things you are good at and exploit them. Allow others to speak wisdom into your life. Do not be wise in your own eyes. Understand that your attempts at making a decent life have failed and that it would behoove you to accept other’s advice; especially when the advice is coming from people who have stability. Quit giving up on yourself, the universe hasn’t otherwise you would not be here. Know that you have potential to be a source of positive creativity in a bleak world. Stop looking at life in such negative terms. Hope for the best in people and do not be discouraged when failures take place. You regret that you squandered the first twenty years of your life; so do something about it before you are in your thirties full of regret. Use your time wisely. Do not concern yourself with little things that have no real effect on your life. Give yourself value without thinking you are worth more or less than anyone else. Allow yourself to enjoy the little things in life instead of nitpicking every moment. Be happy when you can but do not expect life to be perfect. Be upset when you need to be, but do not say that life is always terrible. Give yourself a fighting chance at having a happy meaningful life, you are worth it.

A Day in the Life

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It’s a beautiful Yuma, Arizona morning. It is a February –the cold part of winter is over- kind of morning. The blazing summer heat will come soon enough, but this day the weather is perfect. On the back porch of the recovery house there is random pieces of furniture; a dresser, a nightstand, swivel lawn chairs, a barbecue grill, a general mess. There is a tall dark sun beaten Mexican with black hair. His outfit is made up of basketball shorts, a long sleeve plaid button up shirt with a short sleeve plaid button up shirt of a clashing color on top, bright blue basketball shoes, and a black cowboy hat.  He is dancing. He looks off, or maybe it is that you know he is off. But this is before his mood swings. This morning takes place long before he becomes violent, before he has tried to fight you and put a hole in the hallway wall when you pushed him back, before he has tried to choke you out. Before your roommate Micah grabs a butcher knife and you wonder what the fuck is going to happen next.

This February morning with the near perfect temperature the tall dark Mexican is dancing his best Spanish number. He is in the moment. If he was at a party he would fit right in with drunks and the stoners. Except Paul is perma-stoned. He is brain fried. He is similar to your Iphone when it has gotten cracked or has water damage, but it still works. You can still play Candy Crush as long as you can put up with the minute by minute glitches, freeze ups, and general screw loose-edness. Paul is dancing. Paul is happy.

Sitting beside you in his swivel chair is the DJ of this madman’s story. He fidgets, shuffles his feet, grumbles, gurgles, coughs, and sputters. He is in his fifties but his face shows sixty. He is blasting his heavy metal records, that day it was Metallica. He is a white man who describes himself as a child who will never grow up. He bobs his head to the music, but not in the chill sort of way. He is frantic. His mind is like that bouncing restless leg. Look in his eyes and you can almost see the overloaded freeway of thoughts racing through his mind. And he is kind to you. He is also a little racist. Yay! Lucky for you, you were born a white person, so that somehow gives you extra respect in Micah’s eyes. Don’t ask.

Micah used to smoke meth. He does smoke meth. He breaks any laws that get in his way, but you don’t know that yet. This is before he brings home the shittiest weed you have ever seen in your life. And he doesn’t force the weed on you. No, he only takes offense to you telling him he bought bunk weed. You say something like, “No man, I am two and a half months clean and even if I did want to smoke it would not be that trash.” Your recovery home has strict rules regarding drugs but you don’t want to be that rat, that asshole who reports everything. Especially not over something that has the exact opposite effect on Micah and his usual meth diet. So you only tell your case manager and that is it.

This calm in a mellow psychosis sort of way morning is before Micah puts the weed on a clipboard and puts it on your chest while you are lying on the living room couch, watching television. He is sitting on the floor cross legged with a headlamp on, next to the couch, telling you to look at it. “Look at the nugs, man!”  “It’s just shake,” you say to him. Right then your peer support comes through the front door, and you immediately grab one of the couch pillows and throw it on top of the clipboard. And as Micah gets up from the floor and guides the peer support to the kitchen; as you run down the hall with the pillow and clipboard and shove the whole mess on top of your bedroom cupboard, you think to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be a sad state of affairs if you were to get busted with weed after years of smoking daily and eluding the law? Now, after you had gone nearly three months without cannabis, and it is not even yours!”

This cool, no breeze, seven AM day Micah sits, fidgets, mumbles and yells lyrics along to his booming stereo. While Paul dances the cumbia or whatever, you sit there and take it all in. You can’t judge them. You are in the recovery assisted living house just the same as them.  You signed up for this front row seat to the crazy show. So you don’t say a thing and try to enjoy the lull of the moment. The break from the normal programming of superbad insanity this house will bring you. This morning is just the right amount of madness. This you can handle.

Life is like a Rubik’s cube

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Your senior year of high school you read the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and you loved it. Something about Hunter S. Thompson’s free and wild writing style inspired you. What started as an article about the Mint 400 motorcycle race held in Nevada quickly became something much more odd and in your opinion increasingly interesting. It was more about Thompson’s drugged out adventure and his insight on life in America than just a piece on some boring sporting event. It was published in 1972 and thirty seven years later you found his writings to be more relevant than ever. He seemed to hold no regard for the common issues of life, he seemed above it. You definitely did not agree with everything he wrote but you felt that Thompson understood something deeper about life then you did.

As an aspiring writer you wanted to get on Hunter S. Thompson’s level. You wanted to see life through his eyes; you wanted your words to resonate the way his did. You decided that his odd sensibilities were in part due to his experimentation with drugs. So you started researching recreational drugs, finding out more about what you were going to get yourself into. You felt it important to stay away from hard drugs at least in the beginning, and only test the waters. So you became a pothead who occasionally dabbled in psychedelic mushrooms. Now you look back and know that drugs do not make you more interesting but rather more strange. You had a voice, better yet, you have a voice and that is something that belongs to you and not the substances. If anything drugs only made your vision more hazy, confusing, and less obtainable.

Once being very anti drugs, you changed your opinion on them based off of Thompson’s life. Everyone always told you drugs were bad but what did they know? Here was a man who did not restrain himself from his desires and instead found a great deal of success in doing so. Over the years life has taught you that Hunter was an anomaly and not the norm. It is more common to see someone destroy their dreams on drugs, not fulfill them. You are reminded of seeing a man you knew, who most nights slept on a bench outside of the local A.A. meeting place. He would not tell you he is living the dream. He would not explain to you that he understood something greater about life than the common folk. He would only ask for a cigarette and if you knew where to score him some more meth. For every one person who finds success in being a druggie, there is a multitude of others who have done nothing and found their lives in ruin.

Somewhere along the line you understood that you wanted to write like Thompson, not be like him. For all of his genius he was a haunted man, who ended up taking his own life. You learned the importance of being an individual and not a basic copy and paste of someone else’s journey, and you personally equated the feeling to playing the guitar. Yes, one can look up to Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain and want to be able to play just like them, but that doesn’t mean the person needs to start slamming heroin or dropping LSD. One can celebrate the success of an individual without also praising their mistakes.

You used to think that in order to be something, anything, you had to practice the same lifestyles of those who came before you. In order to be a biker you need the standard dress code of black leather jackets, boots, and chains, but that is a generic and dull way of looking at things. If you want to be a biker, you need to ride a bike, period. Make your own style, add some originality. Be a trend setter, not a follower, then when you make mistakes at least they are your own. One should have heroes they look up to but they should not see them as anything more than human, flawed like the rest of us.