The Shine

Of late, I haven’t been able to write. I suppose you could label it a writer’s block – or what is commonly referred to as “writer’s block” – but the reality of the situation is more convoluted than what that simple term seems to suggest: that the inability to commit words to paper is, in itself, the root of the problem and not a symptom of something a little deeper and more complex. As if “writer’s block” is some grossly unthinking virus; something you catch like bad luck or the flu. Something that happens to you through no fault of your own. I wish that were the case, for it would seem to indicate an easy “recovery” – as if the block would effortlessly dissipate as easily as it came on. I know that is not going to happen. Because it isn’t something that just happened, but something I myself cultivated with weariness and hate and disillusion. It is a symptom of a deep attitudinal sickness that creeped in so slowly I hardly noticed it until it was in full bloom.

I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly I was sick again. AM sick. Sick of acquaintances playing the role of “friend.” Sick of fellow commuters and their petty anger. Sick of playing the dominance game with other men. Sick of bosses and their entitlement to my free time. Sick of probation officers with their suspicion and mock concern. Sick of a society that while screwing you demands the facade of a good attitude (It’s cool. I UNDERSTAND I am often going to be forcibly penetrated from time to time. It is what it is. But don’t hold me down and fuck me and then tell me we’re making love.) I am sick of pretending as if I am not nauseated by everything. And by “sickness” I don’t mean my particular perception of the world, for the world IS full of petty manipulative humans and just making it day by day can be a miserable grinding experience. No, what makes my particular mindset “sick” is the intense focusing of almost all my energy on everything that is horrifying and deeply depressing in this janky-ass world. It is not in anyway wrong or sick to feel pain, but it becomes pathological when, instead of trying to ignore or overcome it, you emphasize said pain. This nausea has always been a part of me and there is nothing wrong with that. In my opinion, I’m just more willing to face the facts than most other people. But I’ve paid the price for my inability to keep this nausea (I’m nauseous I’m nauseous) from utterly consuming me. It has led to, among other things: anxiety, addiction, lack of hope, general misery, and a crazy Problem Child-esque temper. And after a period of 7 months where I had nothing better to do but think about it all, I finally realized that those are MY problems not the world’s. I am the master of my own misery. I am still a pessimist (realist) when it comes to other people and the state of the world, but I am now an optimist in regards to my ability to deal with this fucked-up world.

When I got out, I was determined to waste no more of my finite time and energy raging at the world (or deadening myself to that which incited my rage). Looking back, though, I see that my expectations were not realistic. Locked up, I cultivated a skewed perception of the world and my ability to cope with its infinite frustrations. I thought my newfound positive attitude was strong enough to weather the storm of assholes I would surely encounter, and maybe it would have been, but what I wasn’t aware of was how much my positive attitude was tied to gratitude for simply not being in jail, a gratitude that faded with the slow realization of a new set of problems. Recidivists refer to this gratitude as the “shine.” The “shine” denotes both the positive physical benefits of being locked up -working out and not smoking crack and/or shooting dope- as well as its accompanying mental polish, which is basically the gratitude that comes with having a second (or third or fourth or fifth, etc…) chance at life. And they always spoke of the “shine” eventually wearing off, becoming marred, as the realities of life (especially as a felon) set in. So I should have known what was happening, should have expected it, when this dull throbbing pain began to settle into, first my stomach, then my bones, and eventually all of my appendages. Of course, the worst of it was right behind the eyes, for they recieve the brunt of all that is unwelcome. But for all my big words and ideas of myself as being not retarded, I didn’t know what the fuck was happening, why I wanted to lash out at almost everyone I came into contact with, until just now as I write this down. It’s funny, for the past month or so I’ve been waking up at 5 in the morning to sit in front of this screen waiting for magic to happen, waiting to write something, if not beautiful, at least decent and I couldn’t write a word. When I started writing this I thought it was going to be just a rant, a vomiting of all the poison that has been surging through my veins, and it probably doesn’t seem like much to you, but to me it IS magic. It is an affirmation of why I ever started writing in the first place- it’s the only way I’ve ever been able to make sense of all this chaos and confusion and it is one of the very few things that still feels decent and right.

(A.M. exhales…) Alright. Deep breaths’. In and out. Repeat. This positive thinking thing is relatively new to me. I am an old hater from way back. And old habits die hard, but I seem to have reached a moratorium for the time being and I need to take advantage of it. I will now save this file, copy and paste it to WordPress, be content with 3 people reading it, and get back to the meat of my work. And it may be that I am just another run-of-the-mill wackjob, but I really feel if I can just keep plodding along I just might be able to regain a semblance of that shine without having to catch another case. Well, here’s to one bastard word at a time.

By A.M.

(Drugs and Culture)


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