Thursday, March 31, 2005


Slippery Slopes

I was wary about having caffeine the day before yesterday…and for good reason as it turns out. Caffeine is innocuous enough in itself, of course. But I’m one of those people who basically has two speeds: OFF and HIGH. I can either abstain from all chemical crutches, or I can embark on a slippery slope. Caffeine leads to alcohol. And alcohol eventually leads to narcotics. Finally, I’m left once again at the bottom—popping pills to make it through the day while the years pass me by.

My fears were well-grounded, unfortunately, for I did end up drinking the other night. I had been nervous all day (hence the caffeine for a “pick me up”). Throughout work I was teetering on the brink of an anxiety attack as if I were staring down a cliff upon which I was precariously perched. After awhile, the bottom dropped out of my mood, and I was left falling through the ether world of sadness and fear. When I got home, I tried to distract myself with various projects around my apartment, but I couldn’t stay focused. Eventually, I ended up boozing it up on beer and then passing out. The only reason I didn’t smoke was because I didn’t have any cigarettes or any money to buy them.

Still it wasn’t the end of the world, as relapses go. I came into work on time (actually early) yesterday and worked a full and functional day. Last night, I did my routine at the gym, and I’m back at work today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


In the beginning...

I can’t decide if it’s better to give some general background about myself or just to jump in and start journaling. Jumping in seems a little abrupt, but at the same time I can’t imagine people exactly lining up to read my entries, let alone my life’s history. Plus, being inherently lazy, I really don’t want to try to write a backstory, so I think I’ll just go with the “jump in” option.

I recently gave up my Vicodin habit. (Not for the first time, so we’ll have to wait and see.) I was really going overboard with the pills, not to mention being a smoker and an alcoholic on top of that. I have a certain soft spot in my heart for my vices and depravities. Being born is a lot like being dropped into the middle of a play that makes absolutely no sense. Your gut reaction is to turn to the other cast members and say "What the fuck?" But for some reason you feel compelled to keep the drama going and act like you know your lines. So frankly, considering how absurd life can appear, the drugs and alcohol rather seemed like the right thing to do at the time, and I'm not going to beat myself up over it. Still, on the other hand, I'm thirty-five years old, and my life is going nowhere. My bad habits were drying out all of creative energy and threatening my professional job, which is one of the few things I have going for me. Yet most importantly, I think, is the loss of time and the fact I will never ever get back the years I spent in an anesthetic haze.

Anyway, I managed to get through my detox. The physical symptoms of withdrawal are bad enough: the creeping feeling of bugs under the skin, the body aches and the inability to sleep for weeks. But the real corner to turn is the psychological adjustment when your mind goes "Holy shit, this is reality!" Narcotics dampen your ability to feel real pleasure and joy, and when you go off of them, your whole world is colored with sadness and anxiety. And it’s hard not to go running and screaming back to their comforting embrace, even if it means one more "knock on the door of my undoing." (Albert Camus, The Stranger) But, like I said, I’ve gotten over that obstacle and have settled into a mildly smug satisfaction over my virtue. In addition to the pills, I’ve also given up alcohol and smoking, and today was the first day I’ve had caffeine in over a week. While the self-improvement bandwagon is hot, I’ve also struck out in other ways to better my life such as exercise, cleaning my rat-hole of an apartment, etc. So there I am. Desperately trying to conquer my shortcomings and turn order into chaos before it really is too late to use my potential. I cannot let myself be burdened by the hope of fruition…I can only focus on the journey at hand.

"The struggle itself to reach the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
—Albert Camus, "The Myth of Sisyphus"

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