Monday, March 26, 2012

The Sobriety Police

Just had a thought-provoking discussion with a friend about the medical community's attitude towards pain medication. Too many physicians and nurses want to play sobriety police -- always on the lookout for drug-seeking behavior. Can't have you feeling good, must make sure you're stopping at not-too-excruciating. Frankly, I'm a little sick of doctors and other health care professionals using their jobs as bully pulpits from which to trumpet their opinions on addiction. Wanting to feel good, pharmaceutically or otherwise, is nobody's business but the person who is doing the feeling. An ex of mine, a physician, once observed that he didn't believe I had suffered enough physical pain in my life. Apart from being inaccurate and impertinent, it's highly presumptuous of a mere M.D. (you're not a physicist; essentially your greatest intellectual accomplishment is memorizing Grey's Anatomy) to think it's within his bailiwick to prescribe agony as some sort of lesson to be learned from. Anyway, if you're an adult, you're entitled to get fucked up when you feel like it -- particularly if you're not causing trouble for anyone else. And if you're poor and miserable, who could blame you? I would never begrudge any down-and-out denizen of 6th Street his or her crack rock and Steel Reserve.

Chances are, the friend with whom I was speaking wouldn't have suffered his paralysis had St. Mary's not been so damn obsessed with checking what they perceived was his desire to get high on pain meds. They actually thought he was lying about his chronic pain and immobility in order to score happy pills. And all of this applies only to the poor, not the wealthy, of course. If you're low on the socioeconomic totem pole, you're obligated to be a teetotaler... But if your husband manages hedge funds, it's expected that your stash rival Hunter S. Thompson's.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I Have Spent

The previous two days disgusted with myself for not being the person the standards to which I adhere require I should be. It has been a long, rough road these last couple of years: from abject homelessness, living out of two bags and rotting from the inside out, to maintaining my own home since July 2010, and successfully caring for a plant and a cat while keeping up my volunteer commitments and part-time work. But I haven't accomplished everything I'd like, and I always feel I come up short. The high road is steep, and I stumble sometimes while taking the righteous path.

Let's hope the last couple days of crazy give way to better times.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Soul Was Publicly Recognized

I personally don't know how to hate anyone. And yesterday I received such an unconditional love from people I'd never met. I felt like the most cared-for man in the world. I don't know how to express the boundless gratitude that burned like a conflagration through my insignificant, weeping frame as I pondered it afterward in my darkened box.

Once, a hollow man came for me and spoke through many masks, through thousands of voices. I spurned all his advances, knowing what he wanted. His dearest, oldest mask was that of a cherubic two year-old who once ran towards a man to see him bleed from multiple gunshot wounds in public, as though the walking corpse were full of candy. The hollow man is currently recuperating in the hospital from a two-story fall. May he never claim his prize. It is mine, with the people's imprimatur.

I know I am loved. And I burn with love for every soul I meet in this world, with a special regard given the people who can look me in the eye and call me on my shit. Yesterday I became a man in a way. My whole life had been leading up to that point, beginning with my walking like a solid meat vendor through the streets of the Tenderloin to the beat of an improvisational jazz poem spoken by passersby (a gang fight among the elderly followed in my wake, perhaps begetting a civil war in our nation's future), ending in a schoolyard rhyme recited by a generation after me, about me. In my 20s, I thought I would die by 30. I am 34, and God willing, I will know 35. Yesterday was the greatest gift I have ever known, given me by a world I was convinced didn't know I existed at all.

And wherever you are, if you are lying in the dark, naked and in pain and doubt and fear, know that I am thinking of you. I will hold your hand, and you will know you are loved until the end.