Dispatch (No. 2)
March 19, 2011 in Personal
It’s early morning. I’m sitting in my hotel room again, the Andean foothills still framing the airport runway in the distance outside my window, listening to Solsbury Hill as I write these words.
Gabriel García Márquez once described the process of writing as a form of carpentry. He said to write well you need to hypnotize your reader by constructing your sentences in such as way as to lull them into a trance. A stray comma, an errant adjective, and the trance would falter. Your reader would stir and the writing would fail. I also recall that Charles Bukowski once said writing was like seeing a cockroach on the wall and reaching up quickly and smashing it with your hand before it gets away.
Although really, with me it’s usually more of a fit. Or a trance. Often drug-induced. First it was pot and the writing was just awful. Long-winded, boring, pointless and generally stupid. It improved somewhat when I switched to Ritalin, but it was still riddled with too many adjectives. I have a problem with adjectives as it is—often throwing in three where one would suffice—and the Ritalin made this worse. Regardless, my carpentry work was awful. I couldn’t hypnotize a slug, much less smash a cockroach.
Things got interesting when I stopped taking Ritalin and switched to painkillers. Something about my brain chemistry responded really well to a solid hit of oxycodone. In addition to the waves of euphoria, I would find myself propelled by an incredible but short-lived burst of creative energy as soon as the drugs crossed my blood-brain barrier. If I was lucky enough to be near a keyboard, away from any distractions, the writing would flow. Gloriously so. (Not that the writing itself was glorious, but the process of getting it down on paper certainly felt that way.) Of course it could have just been a drug-induced error of perception on my part. In any event, the bursts of energy tended to recede quickly, giving way to the traditional narcotic haze. And of course all of this was unsustainable in the long run. Eventually my ability to do much of anything productive, let alone write decently, evaporated. The addiction took hold.
So I had to stop it with the fucking painkillers. And that fucking sucked. I don’t think I really knew what physical agony was until I experienced my first withdrawal from opiate narcotics. Holy shit did that fucking hurt. To call it “painful” fails do it justice. Even “very, VERY, fucking painful” doesn’t quite convey the full spectrum of agony one endures when kicking painkillers. If you’ve never had to go trough it, don’t! It’s worse than you think it is. A lot worse. You can’t really imagine it.
Anyway, I eventually managed to quit that shit too, but it’s still an ongoing struggle. And even after that, I was mired in a debilitatingly soul-crushing depression that lasted the better part of two years. I was left with the attention span of a gnat and the impetus of a cinder block.
Which is why I’m here yet again, in this putrid backwater of a shit town in South America, seeing what can only be described as a post-modern witch-doctor, about my fucking head. This is my third trip down here and probably my last. I hadn’t really noticed much by way of progress and was ready to pull the plug.
And then last night, it appears, the clouds finally parted and for the first time in many months, maybe even years, I felt oddly, inexplicably good. Better than I’ve felt in a long, long, time. Without the aid of drugs. And the weird thing is I didn’t even sleep well last night. I had nightmares and woke up at least seven times throughout the night. But somehow I got up still feeling fairly good. The proof of this is are the preceding 650 or so words, which is the most writing I have been able to produce in quite a while.
Whatever it is, this morning that fucking cockroach was just sitting up there, looking at me, it’s long, ugly-ass antennae quivering, taunting me. And fuck it if I wasn’t going to smash the shit out of that slimy motherfucker.