In the Eye of Four Corners.

Emotions pass by
like dead leaves in a violent wind,
free from my grasp,
fleeting sneak peeks of universes
that hide within.

If I could just
taste them, embody them,
instead of being bound
to the swamp
that I’m sinking in,

if I could just
bleed them, breathe them in,
could I let go and renown
all secrets lost
in the dark inside?

Woven sounds
and images serve
as the catalyst, releasing
bootleg memories,
hidden dispositions
calling out to me

as I am embraced by a mourning,
an eerie homesickness,
an ominous warning,
roles in what is to come.

Feels as though
I’m climbing
out of a nested dream,
a Chinese box, a Russian doll,
the strata of infinity,
fighting the urge to sleep
as I struggle to acclimatize myself
to waking reality.

Speak to me.

Nothing is etched in stone,
but from the mountaintop
you can see further down the road
and history has shown
the stubborn nature
of the path forged.

Choices remain.
The hope is to heed
the right voices from within.

Am I listening?

Defuse.

So it rises up again.
Frustration, rage,
so blinding.
Venom in my veins,
mind’s afire,
knuckle white fists
itching for flesh.

This is not me.

Not sure how
I got here again, but whatever
it is I’ve simply had
enough of it.

Deep breaths
to extend the countdown
till I can defuse, do all
I can do to hold back
from lashing out
in the meantime.

Just don’t push me.
Keep away
till I can kill this.

Experience obscured
by mood,
as the threat of losing
my mind lingers, resting
in its hands
so helplessly.

Prisoner of emotion.
In the grips, remembering only
that which justifies:
a given spin
on personal history.

Past is present.
Present is history.
Mood-dependent,
state-specific
everything.

Identity transforming.
Like watching
from a distance.
Nothing seems
to be worth anything
anymore.

Memory’s
always sketchy
in the aftermath.
Over time, watching me
bleed away.

Fuck the world.
Fuck me.
Such a gulf betwixt
who I am,
who I want to be.

Just breathe.
Fucking breathe.

Let Her Bleed.

My arm aches
to reach across the wireless
to bring rest to the restless,
calm to her chaos,
still I feel powerless.

Dying out there
in the American dream,
though painfully awake to reality,
she stands tall, smothered
in normalcy,
discharged, breathing room
sought through, sex,
drugs, liberating lunacy.

Every story,
saturating me.
So enlivening,
even as it kills me.

Company always feeding
loneliness.
Love, such a bitter, twisted,
endless game.
Containing the pain and strife,
seeking balance in a double life,
for one at a time
is not enough to provide space
for all she has to offer,
all she thirsts for.

Still, she is so much more
than all of this.

In the tension of the dichotomy,
itching for worlds to collide,
wishing for waters to kiss,
needing to become one.

Please, just let her sleep
tonight.

Allow her inner strength
to carry her onward,
let me watch her plow
through the pain again,
triumphant in the end.

Give her a moment
of truth to hold,
a spark to set all the lies afire.
Give her the comfort
and acceptance she needs.
Let her feel my love
for her.

Clear a space
for her to bleed.
Leave her mark
for all the world to see.

Let them see
what I see.
It would be a shame
if such beauty
were just wasted on me…

Grab the Shovel.

We personally rate our degree of crazy by ascertaining how closely our stories match up with the stories of those in whom we place the most value. It is how we survive in the circle: killing ourselves to survive. Guilt and fear engulf us when our narratives lack that blessed plagiarism, and perhaps its better in the end to endure it alone in silence rather than open yourself up for all to see. Even better, perhaps, to hide you from yourself. To compartmentalize the mind. And so scissor-happy hands within edit our story and bury the lost episodes deep in the dark, grim recesses of our minds where they rest in pieces, unmarked and abandoned.

Whatever; ‘tis all spilled milk. What we did is done. All was what it had to be. We had to kill ourselves to survive. Veil our soul beneath the soils we work and walk upon for the sake of lifetimes, tangled in an endless knot, feeling lost and stranded in the wrong time and place, a land in which you know somehow you will never really belong. And you don’t even know yourself.

Until their haunting and enchanting summons reach our ears and we submit to the liberation of the dead, or until we find them rising from their graves, even possessing us. Or perhaps all was quiet and well until the rich and wondrous earth elected to vomit them up herself without rhyme, reason or so much as a courteous warning.

Or perhaps we grab the shovel one moonlit eve, go a-digging all on our own.

Goblins of the Threshold.

I. Samhain.
11/1/09

Closing my eyes, letting go, my mind drifts, blossoming spontaneous motion pictures, as is usually the case before I slide into a dream. Relaxed and numb, I am certain I will fall asleep for the few hours I have until I have to start waking up for work, but suddenly, in the silent movie in my mind, one of them pop up. Short, slender, large head and black, slanted, almond-shaped eyes. I come out of it, then drift back into another motion picture, but again they emerge, uninvited.

Curse my unconscious.

Getting up out of bed, I pour myself a mug of coffee. Sit in front of the computer. And then I just stare off into space. Stare into the void where answers should be.

II. Just Another Paranoid Afternoon Morning.
11/13/09

It is the eleventh; the day before my birthday. Something feels “off” from the moment I open my eyes. Suddenly I just wake up, as if out of a trance at the snap of fingers, and look at the clock, which reads around one in the afternoon. Apparently I had gotten up, turned off my two alarms and fell back asleep without realizing it, which happens a bit too often. Either in my hand or just near it on the bed is my cell phone, which immediately struck me as odd, as I always keep it in the chair next to the head of my bed and would have no reason to have it in my hands anyway, as I hadn’t set the alarm on my cell last night. Strangest of all, I was positioned on my bed wrong; my feet were towards the head of the bed, my head at the foot. I sure as hell hadn’t fallen asleep that way. Granted, I must have gotten up to turn off the alarm, which I’ve done countless times without realizing it, but I’ve never settled back down in bed in the opposite direction. And that still didn’t explain my fucking phone.

Later, I would become disturbed by the possibility that I might have been sleep-walking, or more specifically sleep-talking — that I had either answered the phone in my sleep or called someone and had some conversation I didn’t remember. Checking my cell later on, I saw no number called or received during the time I was out. I’d had a few beers the night before, but I certainly wasn’t drunk when I fell asleep. So I just got up, made some coffee, checked the net, took a shower. Tried not to think about it, tried not to reinforce my own stupid paranoia.

And failed fucking miserably.

III. Faces Out From the Haze.
11/16/09

Saturday night, more like Sunday morning. No sleep aide tonight. No pill, no bottle. Back to the mattress, lain straight, I close my eyes, focusing on deep breathing, imagining a cocoon around me, and then relaxing myself from toes to the top of my head, going deeper, deeper. Just breathe. Just relax. Again I see them in my mind’s eye. Involuntarily rising up from the mental haze, this time it is just their faces staring down at me, real close up to my face. Eyes raping my eyes. Breathing deeply, relaxing further, I try to find focus on Ajna, the third eye region, but even with that calm concentration where I feel entirely compact and focused, I see one of them looking down at me, face so close its almost touching mine. Even my mind is against me. Rolling over, face to the wall, clutching the wadded-up blanket like a child, I tell myself just to go to sleep. To forget them. Just sleep without dumbing yourself down tonight. Ignore the sounds, its just the neighbors, the people upstairs, the cars outside, the plumbing, the computer. No one is there. No one is there. Fucking go to sleep.

IV. Supine.
11/20/09

I wake up on my back, my body positioned straight, legs together, both my hands placed on my chest, and paralyzed. I am unable to move anything but my eyes. Unless I am meditating, this is a weird position for me to be sleeping in, and even when I do meditate and eventually fall to sleep I roll over on my side or my stomach shortly thereafter. As I open my eyes, staring at the ceiling, an afterimage of a straight line blinking in my field of vision for a few moments for some odd reason, I immediately recognize how peculiar all this is, and though perplexed, I am unafraid. I move my eyes, which is the only part of me I seem capable of moving, towards the clock, but I cannot remember what time it was that I saw. Nor can I recall my dreams, though I feel certain I had more than one. I remember thinking it was a shame I had not kept my webcam recording me sleeping as I had several nights prior. I then close my eyes again and drift off to sleep.

V. They Are My Waldo.
1/12/10

If you ever watch South Park you may have noticed that in many episodes that have stretched out across the seasons cameos have been made by “The Vistors,” as the writers call them, or, as they are more popularly known, the Gray aliens. Its like Where’s Waldo? only in this case Waldo is short, skinny, with a huge head like an overturned egg upon which rests two big, black, slanted and almond-shaped eyes. And even if you don’t look for Waldo, he pops up out of nowhere, haunting you. Sometimes these cameos are blatant, but more often you’ll find them hiding in the crowds or in the scenery.

Well, for the past few months this is precisely what my head has been like when I’m lying down trying to go to sleep. As is always the case, pictures emerge out of the haze of my mind as I am on the bridge of sleeping and waking; sometimes these images are in color, sometimes they manifest in this crisp, vivid, opaque kind of quality, as if I’m viewing it all through a pair of dark sunglasses. Often its scenery, sometimes people; sometimes freeze-frames, sometimes there’s movement. So I’ll be letting my mind go and drifting calmly off to sleep when out of nowhere one of the Grays will appear, walking around, and they will look dead at me like some character on television that suddenly looks back at you from within the screen and you get the startling sense that the character is real and can actually see you. As can be expected, this freaks me out and I bolt awake, physically bolting upward, only to try and fall asleep again, often to only have it happen again.

To be entirely honest, I prefer this to what was occurring maybe a month or two ago, when I could not lay my head down into the pillow sober without seeing, within my mind, images of a group of Grays looking down on me from real, real close-up. I always sleep on my side or with my face down in the pillow, rarely on my back, so the fact that I always saw them looking down on me from a supine position shocked me even more; despite the fact that these were before-dream images, it felt as if I was actually there, real-time, on my back, despite the fact that I most certainly was not (or at least at the time, I can say with confidence). I really would have hoped that after all these years the sight of their faces would not haunt me so; that they would not be so very entrancing and yet simultaneously frightening.

To some things, it seems one can never become desensitized.

Hypersensitive Skin.

Bound to the extremes,
I am lost to the spectrum
as I ping-pong between.

Addict and slave
to intense, emotional
reactions,
vacuum packed for freshness
in hypersensitive skin.

History echoes beneath,
past becomes the present,
hiding behind
masques, costumes,
and self-deceiving justifications,
blurring my sight
till I am all but blind,
carried away
by whirlwinds within.

Sleep On It.

You feel the need to retreat,
close your eyes and go to sleep
inside your life,
nested in lies,
safe in slumber till

it bites you on the ass again
and jolts you awake,
leaving you banging your head
against the bars
of your cage.

Just understand:

I don’t want to be asleep
forever,
I just prefer to be wide awake
without the terror.

I’ve been here for so long:

Lingering
in my walking coma,
meandering
through this endless nightmare.

I want to live, be, embody
my dreams,
never submit to retreat,
though I’m always
feeling as though I’m left here
running on fumes,
just itching for lucidity
without a finger
with which to scratch.

Life could be
my waking dream.

There’s got to be a way.
I’m afraid I’ll fade away.
Yet I always tell myself
that I’ll sleep on it.

What a sad, self-defeating
bed I’ve made.

Phone Sex & Life Lessons.

After the doors close at eleven, we aren’t supposed to go outside. We aren’t supposed to smoke inside. My way around this dilemma was to ascend to the roof of the building when I needed to torch a tobacco twig, and that was precisely what I was doing that night, July 8th, perhaps a half an hour before my shift ended.

As I blackened my lungs, I glanced at my iPhone and saw that I had a voicemail from Claire. Her voice suggested this was another one of her “Ambien dials,” which I always found to make for particularly interesting conversations. She said I should call her right away, even if only for a few minutes. Out of character for me, I actually called her back then and there.

Immediately I was reminded of the strange, timeless nature of our relationship. With other friends of mine, who I go without talking to for enduring periods, I always have to hear shit about how I’ve been a such a stranger and so on. As justified as it may be, it stands as something that dissuades me from calling people back when I otherwise want to. When it came to Claire, though, things were always different. We could just pick up right where we left off. Never more than a sentence or two of playful scolding for how many times I had not called back or taken the lead to call her out of the blue and out of character. Forever and always she seemed just satisfied with hearing my voice again. As always, it was a breath of fresh air to hear her again as well.

“I took an Ambien,” she confessed a few sentences in.

I laughed. “Yeah, I kind of figured.”

For some time had been seeing two doctors, both of them prescribing her Ambien. Her husband at the time knew but never complained, she had told me, as she tended to “put out” more often when under its influence. As we spoke about it, she told me she was only seeing one doctor now. I brought up how I had been thinking of getting on something for sleeping, as none of the over-the-counter stuff had been working particularly well for me, and just today I had considered Ambien. She told me the high off Ambien was in some way sort of like the pot high and, laughing under my breath, I told her I’d be doing that upon getting home. I confessed that I was worried that I had become a pothead. Before I had to end the conversation, she made me promise to call her when I got home.

Home had become a nightmare. Though I had announced to Nick a few months back that I thought we should leave this town and go our separate ways, he was the one that took the initiative. I began looking for not only a new apartment, but a new job, and outside the area. He was the first to find an apartment, however, and left halfway through June. Initially I gave a month’s notice that I was leaving the apartment, but due to my failed efforts at both finding a new job and a place to live I had to go back to the office and ask for an extension until August.

Things had never looked so grim, so daunting. I was 35, I had worked in the same fast food joint for the last decade, I was in debt up to my third eye and didn’t know where I might be living in the next month. I was looking for places, and jobs, in two areas about an hour apart. There was no firm ground to stand on, not anywhere. My entire universe was one of flux. Everything was up in the air.

Upon my arrival home, after dead-bolting the door like a paranoid freak, I kicked off my work-pants and decided to just sit in my boxers and call her. This is a two bedroom apartment that I have all to myself, after all, so why rush the whole pants thing? Too lazy to dial her number or look it up in contacts, I clicked on her number in my list of previous calls. It took a few rings by the time she answered — I had almost hung up, thinking she might have actually fallen asleep. She picked up, though, and she was clearly more high than she had been roughly an hour ago. It surprised me when she told me why, though. Not merely on Ambien, she was now smoking pot.

“How long has this been going on?” I asked her.

“A few months.”

I proceeded to ask her questions to try to get a feel for her current circumstances, as there is always something exciting going on. How about that married guy at the office who she had hooked up with — the guy put on her panties, asked her if she would pee on him and then began putting down the plastic when she complied? Yes, she said, but there are problems. He was still married. That confused me, as when she spoke of him before she seemed to treat this as a mere fling, a fuckbuddy situation, and had no real interest in pursuing something deeper with her piddle-seeking office mate.

Suddenly our conversation turned toward sex in general, however, which is where I began to sense she was driving towards something she had planned on talking about specifically. When she mentioned — tellingly while speaking in second person; a common technique of distancing — that during sex “your thoughts aren’t always on the one you’re with,” I knew we had arrived at a predetermined location.

If I remember correctly, I had thought of a porn star once or twice while fucking an ex-girlfriend because I was tired and feared my enthusiasm was waning. Even those occasions felt wrong to me, however, and I sensed that her meaning was a more extreme form of this. In other words, having sex with someone you aren’t attracted to. I had this same difference in perspective when so many of the guys I have known have announced that “a vagina is just a vagina.” It just has never worked that way for me. It seems too much like turning a subject into an object, reducing the girl in question into a sex toy. A masturbatory prop.

She tells me about Blue Bunny, her dildo. I find myself amused that she had named her phony-bonie, in so doing turning an object into a subject in a way.

My reciprocation? I tell her how I used to have a silicone vagina but ultimately destroyed it. There were two shafts, one of which was, of course provided for your meat-missile. The other was the home of a series of pearly beads that, through the silicone skin felt by the base of your penis, allegedly enhances the experience and more suitably mimics the sensations of a real vagina.

It doesn’t. Yet when the heights of arousal exceed the dam of shame, as is required for me to consider ramming my dick in an inanimate object — I have by that time lost all sense of standard and the damn thing is around, so when I had it, I used it.

Regardless, in the midst of my jerky roughhousing one evening I somehow manage to puncture the interior wall of my pseudo-pussy, drill into the parallel pearl shaft and push it and its neighbors so hard they collectively assisted me in creating a sort of wormhole shaft out of the vaginally-shaped silicone universe and, consequently, a route for them to burst free into the dark, smoky world of my apartment. I had turned my pocketpussy into a dick-hammered pearl cannon.

It was like a small-scale Easter egg hunt afterwards. With the interconnecting shaft, the thing was difficult to clean, so I soon just threw it away. I can only hope its buried in a landfill somewhere, for the thought of it being used secondhand by some lonely and pent-up vagrant, thrusting in a shaft well-worn by yours truly and no doubt caked in my dead and crusty cum — well, it is by no means a pleasant thought.

I should probably add that I have her a much shorter version of that story. Not out of a desire to censor myself so much as not murder the mood in an unnecessary bloodbath.

Anyway, during masturbation or imaginary meandering during sex Claire would have a “go-to guy” in an ever-ready fantasy in her “back pocket.” If she wanted to get off, she could always have that go-to if she needed it. For her, at least for the moment, it was this ugly, balding guy at work, who she imagined had a particularly small penis. It dealt with her dominating him. This was a fantasy, she added, that she would never actually pursue in real life, and I of course asked her why. She returned my question with a question.

“What if it didn’t live up to the fantasy?”

It would ruin the fantasy. Disempower it. So she keeps it safe and secure and untouchable.

Though I shared the taste for domination and submission she had in her fantasy, the dick-insulting she exemplified when talking down to him was as contrary to my tastes as the golden showers. Talking down to in general, though, was a thought that turned me on.

She asked me if she had ever played with herself while talking with me. Never did I recall her making such a confession and I refuse to believe I could have forgotten had she done so, and I told her as much.

I told her I had never had phone sex, either, though in retrospect that statement was not entirely true. When I was still living in the trailer with Nick and Rena and still dating Annie, I had used both my cell phone and ancient computer to have webcam sex with her. I put my phone down and turned up the volume as I watched choppy, delayed, ever-buffering imagery on my computer screen. I also had two separate girls I had sexted with, though I’m not sure if that counts.

Upon Claire’s request, I got high. This was easy enough, as I had been packing my bowl as we spoke. As I got high she asked me what I would do if we were alone in a room and she was sitting on the bed before me. I could do anything, she said.

No worry. No guilt. No shame.

Lounging at her, I grab her by the wrist and pin her down to the bed, lifting her wrists above her head as I close in on her, atop her. Grabbing for bungee-cord-like rope and a blindfold that appear out of the imaginal ether, I soon have her bound and blindfolded, unable to reciprocate, resist, or anticipate anything. It has been a long while for me, I tell her — over two years now — so I don’t go easy on her, either, pounding into her long, deep and hard.

“What else would you do?”

I didn’t answer, but I saw myself lightly choking her. In a cautiously phrased manner, I tell her how I then proceed to lightly slap her across the face, just to ensure I had her complete attention, that she wasn’t wandering away to her go-to, piggly-wiggly man. Eventually I let one arm loose so she could slap me on the ass, then the other so that she could pull my hair at the same time.

As the fantasy went on, I was telling her less and less of it. I was getting absorbed, but I was also embarrassed enough to censor myself at this point. I feared offending her, coming across as a turn-off.

My reservations gave her the wheel. It was what I intended, and she took it without complaint.

Its not only with her, and its not only here. I am always far more confident that I will be willing to accept who another person is than I am that they will be able to accept me for who I am. Even with Claire, the closest I could ever come to a soulmate, I am more eager to take the passenger seat and let her drive me than for me to take the wheel and assume responsibility for the both of us.

Both of us are on the bed. She is on all fours and I am on top of her, gazing down at the tattoo of the sun of Sublime on her back. I grab her hands and pin them against the headboard, interlocking our fingers as we both slam into one another in time. One hand of mine bursts free, slapping her ass; then the other hand to grab her ass, then hold her by her thighs as I proceed with my jackhammering.

I liked her imagery.

Regardless a to which one of us took the role of narrator, I noticed, my insecurities bled on through. I would get excited, go rock hard, feel embarrassed and nervous, go dead and droopy, and then I got rock hard again as the excitement built back up twice as fast. With the oscillation the energy build to such a degree that I was convinced that if I could only get myself horny enough, anything might be possible.

“You think you can cum on the phone?”

Immediately the visual blossomed into my mind in all its gory glory: a cell phone covered in a sticky, milky-white substance. Like a Slimer from Ghostbusters made entirely of sausage snot had just subjected the receiver to a drive-by ravaging.

I was clearly high.

It dripped there in my mind for a moment before I realized she meant to ask whether or not I thought I would orgasm on the phone. I was fairly certain this would not happen.

“I think you can.”

Indeed I did.

The post tele-coital pillow talk was a bit awkward. You hold off on the impulse to say “how was it for you?” because its so damn typical; it doesn’t matter than the question cannot be drawn from the plethora of cues available in the context of physical sex and is therefore more justified in this case. You just do not taint a landmark like this with a question like that. I could think of nothing to say yet again, so she took the mic.

“Did you cum?”

I laugh. “Yes,” I tell her. “Yes, I most certainly did.”

She tells me how good of an artist I am. When she had convinced me to draw something alongside my pastel works of strange faces, sketches and cartoons and draw some finches, she told me, she was convinced of my talent. She didn’t understand why I failed to use it to pursue a career.

It was the same reason I failed to pursue anything in my life. I had no sense of direction and no ambition, I have had the desire to do something important, the burning impulse has been haunting me my whole life and perhaps longer, but there is a hand that holds me back. I know it is within me, but I cannot get it out of my way.

I have had opportunities to do something with my art. One friend wanted to jointly make a children’s book. Another wanted to team up to make a video game using a story, given I could come up with a good enough one. Why did I avoid it all, let it fade, let it pass me by?

“Maybe you just need to be forced into decisions,” she offered.

That wasn’t it. “Then I feel weak for not making them myself,” I told her.

As stupid as it all is, I feel the need to do things myself, though find myself overwhelmed and incapable in my attempts to do so and fall back onto reliance, back to being a beggar and so into an ever-growing sea of shame, frustration, outright rage. After while, well-established patterns, stagnation, feels like the safest place for me. For the record I do realize this is not a personal philosophy highly conductive to evolution.

Be the memories false or true, it is all too easy to see how I could have actually been the bum or hobo I recall being in a past life. I could just as easily be one in this life if not for my friends and family. I was and am a child, typically waiting for things to just fall in my lap, too incapable to pick up the things that fall in my lap when they slide off onto the floor. All out of fear for the reactions I would surely have if I tried and failed.

I’m sensitive, I know that. My emotional reactions to things carry an often overwhelming emotional intensity for me. If I tried and failed, how would I feel? That the universe tricked me into letting it lift me upward just so that it would be able to drop me from a greater height. After awhile, it feels imperative to play it safe and keep close to the ground. You couldn’t be dropped or fall on your own if you remained close to the ground. So instead, I kept my dreams close to me, where reality couldn’t render them stillbirth or crib death.

Then something in my head clicked. A typical “aha!” moment. While she didn’t state it explicitly and I was indeed fairly fucking high, it suddenly struck me that, whether she meant to indicate it or not, the suggestion here was that my hopes and dreams of being an artist or writer is my “go-to” that I keep in my back pocket. My dreams of success were like her Piggy-Wiggy Man. After all, what if I tried to write that children’s book, write that story or do some art for that video game, make that logo for that band and no one liked it, it went nowhere, I failed?

I would have ruined the fantasy and reality in one single, foul swoop. Killed a dream and a waking hope. Two ephemeral birds with one ambitious stone. A seductive fantasy and hopeful reality broken, resting in jagged shards that will continue to slice your soles you as you tread across them for perhaps years to come.

May my most sacred
of seeds be preserved
so to spare them the potential ills
of breaking fertile ground.

All their options open,
their lives ahead of them
all kept at a safe distance to which
they shall remain bound.

No seedlings to be scorched
by drought or floods
that drown away,
no sprouts taken out by parasites:
all saved from the slaughter
of harvest day…

In part, perhaps I hold off on making a choice, preferring to keep all my options open. It may also serve as a strategy aimed at keeping my dreams alive and my fragile hopes away from the world of gravity and the hard, solid ground that would inevitably shatter those hopes to pieces.

Anything else?

Suddenly I remember a girl at a former job suddenly just turned to me and said out of nowhere one day, “are you afraid of success?” It caught me off guard, and maybe it didn’t really make sense until now. As much as we fear losing the go-to dream in our back pockets through failure, we might fear the opposite extreme: success. Perhaps part of the fear stems from the fear that if you get what you hope for you will have nothing left to hope for; that it would be the end of the road.

Failure is our weapon in our war against boredom. Echoes of and answers to a Nietzsche concept: “Against boredom, even the gods struggle in vain.”

So does this mean certain doom, or could we learn to live with contentment? Without the tension between what is and what could be? Is being perpetually dissatisfied truly some strategic means of generating meaning out of our lives? Do we fear achieving for we believe there would be nothing left to reach for?

Maybe Agent Smith was onto something in the original Matrix when he spoke about previous Matrix versions where everything was perfect: humans could not take it. This world we live in is not necessarily an illusion perpetuated by artificial intelligence but the world in which we save ourselves from the infinite boredom inherent in perfection. Heaven and hell are synonymous, so bear the frustrations of failure and try as infrequently as possible, relying instead on your capacity to dream your little dreams: they are Novacaine for reality…

Now all hope is gone,
as I have gotten all
that I could have asked for
and then some,

If only I had lacked ambition,
I might have been spared this
infinite boredom.

Economical Reorientation.

Frustration feeds the itch to
close the book, hang up the hat,
write it off, relinquish the fight.

Apathy in acceptance
of the futility.
Abandon you as you
abandoned me.

What is crazy
but popular vote?
All the while reality
fails to be
so democratic.

Warm in the company of lies,
its cold holding truth on your own.
Treated as evermore blind,
all as I feel I see more clearly.

Apathy grows
in the face of futility.
Understanding means
so much more to me.

Better Living Through Altered Brain Chemistry.

When I began college in 2007, I was still working at the fast food job that I have now been working at for the past ten years. I lived alone, in my own efficiency apartment. It was an amazing period, as I felt as if I were actually doing something, working towards something, accomplishing something.

Two years later, as I was ready to declare a major in Integrated Linguistic Arts so I could be an English teacher, things at first appeared grand. Horrible in high school, I was now getting close to a 4.0. I had even passed a class on Logic with flying colors — which I found odd, as I’m horrible with math and the system really is not all that distinct. Confidence was up. I felt I could really be a teacher, do something meaningful and get paid for it. I could have the kind of job many writers have had as they engage in moonlighting, writing short stories and novels in hopes of getting published and making a difference through the written word. I felt as though might have a good future.

Then I had my first speech class.

The first day, we had to go up in front of the small class and give a short introduction of ourselves. This was where I discovered that the anxiety attacks that began (so far as I have been able to trace it back) in high school were not something I had grown out of. It was a twenty second speech and it felt worse than death. After I sat back down, embarrassed, I felt myself uncontrollably shaking for the remainder of the class. I left class that day and never went back.

As my English class that semester was centered on group work — part of the college’s new war against introverts, evidently — the anxiety rose to an unbearable degree there, too. I went to that class for perhaps two days before I couldn’t take the constant anxiety anymore. I only had one class remaining, my art history class, and I began attending only on occasion.

Suddenly, things had gone to shit again.

And that was about when I went down to the college health center and got myself a psychologist who could refer me to medication. I tried to see if they would simply allow me medication without the talk-therapy, but they didn’t. Desperate, I did it, and he referred me to an exceptionally kind woman that first had me try Zoloft, Celexa, and finally Effexor XR.

Things didn’t get better right away, though it was hard to tell given I had by that time all but given up on college and hardly attended Art History. I was in danger of failing the class. Though I refused to let my psychologist talk to him and give me special treatment, he did talk me into emailing the professor and asking if I could do a project to save my grade, which I realized was essentially the same thing. The professor expressed his reluctance in a return email, but accepted given I do a perfect paper. In any case, he liked my paper, it would seem, as I passed that class.

Still, there was the fact that my one class as opposed to three dropped me below the requirements necessary for the FAFSA loans and the grant I had already gotten. The money I no longer had and couldn’t pay back. After the semester ended and I stopped attending college altogether, the loan bills came in, the credit collection agencies, and the few times I tried to pay them back it hardly made a dent in my debt to them and only increased my debt elsewhere, as I got behind on my bills as well.

I got a doctor at a local hospital and got my Effexor through him and my insurance covered most of it. Twenty dollar co-pay for doctor visits; five to ten dollar prescriptions. My mood improved; my fear subsided. I could even change the trash at work when people were sitting at tables nearby, which I had always avoided because the anxiety would creep up and consume me. I could drive home at night without fearing that I would get in a crash. There were even periods when I got laid.

I note, however, that even the Effexor was evidently not enough for me in the five years I took it. When the weird shit started amping up again in 2010, I began drinking at the bars in that college town every weekend. I began drinking at home in order to sleep. I the end, I realize that I essentially moved back into the college town and gained a roommate so I could continue my weekends at the bar with my group of friends at a safer distance. And, granted, so I could catch up on my bills. That was the plan, anyway. The drinking in our group got out of control, however. and I found it hard to stop.

I began experiencing incidents of rage at work that got so intense that one one occasion I began having the scintillating scotoma of my migraine auras (as always, without the headache). It was the incident at Sadie’s party, though, that finally inspired the change. Once a happy drunk, my mood while under the influence had begun to spiral out of control. My roommate had gotten drunk along with me and neglected to take me home as I had promised and I reverted to a child, screaming at him, demanding he take me home. I felt as though I was losing my mind. I managed to stop drinking shortly thereafter, but only when switching my habit to smoking pot.

It was not until a few months back (or has it been longer?) that I stopped taking Effexor. First, I totally screwed up the “obamacare” thing, so I had no medical insurance. I kept sleeping through my doctor appointments and went through a few brief periods without Effexor — which brought on withdrawals far more frightening than I could have imagined. Then my doctor left the practice. I made another appointment with another doctor, still without insurance, and then got the bill — which I could not pay. Still have not paid. I tried another doctor and slept through one or two appointments. Frustrated with myself, I threw up my arms and said: fine, I just won’t be on medication.

I suffered for a week or two before doing some internet searching for over-the-counter substitutes, or at least something that would combat the withdrawals, which to my utter fucking horror were not going away. It was like that feeling I got sometimes when I stepped off an elevator and could still feel myself going down despite the fact that I was standing on sturdy ground, only here it was as if my head was falling forward despite the fact that it wasn’t. Then the sensation would end, my heads would snap back together, as it were, but the finale would be accompanied by what I can only describe as a lighting strike inside my brain. When that was not happening, I still felt lightheaded and off balance.

The withdrawals did not ease with the multivitamins, B-12, and 5HTP, but I finally felt some relief when I began taking Ginkoba. No more “head trails” and cerebral lightning strikes. I began meditating as well, focusing the breath by counting from one to ten or with the mantra “in, out” and worked on gently pushing away intrusive thoughts.

Even so, increasingly since I stopped taking Effexor XR I have felt my emotions intensifying to an overwhelming degree. They are extreme and unstable. My moods swing from rage and hate to fear to suddenly being something approximating okay. Though I have always been hypersensitive in many respects and certainly emotionally, these last few months have brought extremes I would not have previously considered possible. My emotions are entirely off the rails and frequently all-consuming. The slightest, most subtle comment or incident sets me off. Bouts of depression have been so deep my thoughts have scared the living hell out of me; fear so gripping the thought of death pales in comparison; rage so all-consuming I cannot even hear myself think over the sheer volume of the emotions attacking me. In short, I feel far worse than I ever recall feeling before having taken Effexor.

Trying to articulate how I had felt all my life and how I often felt at an even more extreme degree, I could only think of pulling back on a bow further and further, never releasing the arrow. Being stuck in that moment right before you leap, that moment when someone steps out of nowhere and scares the shit out of you and you have yet to catch up with what is actually happening. It was like being stuck in that moment of high-tension just before the climax, though the release of orgasm never came. It was not until the random word came into my mind as a sort of internal voice about a month ago — “hypertension” — and I looked it up online that I realized this was exactly how I felt. Evidently it is a symptom of PTSD. I was never raped, never molested, never physically abused, though, so how the fuck would I even qualify for this?

My current state, however, may be due to — or is being exacerbated by — “discontinuation syndrome” or “seratonin syndrome” as a result of abruptly stopping the Effexor. Or perhaps five years of being medicated has gotten me used to a less turbulent emotional life and now the strength I once had to handle them in at least somewhat of a mature manner has atrophied.

Fucked if I know.

Regardless, I have once again — as I have quite a few times, particularly in the last month and a half — come to rest on the conclusion that nothing could be more obvious right now than the fact that I need medication. I would even take Effexor again, which I have until now sworn off, even when accepting that I needed prescription medication in general.

It is indeed strange, where we end up, where we ultimately find ourselves. For years I had sworn off drugs. Back in highschool, I would not take so much as an Aspirin despite the clear and present fact that I was essentially living through an endless headache. As available coping mechanisms failed and other angles proved fruitless, drugs — over the counter, prescription, as well as socially-embraced and illicit ones — began filling up my arsenal for my ongoing war against whatever the hell it is that is wrong with me.

At 35 years of age, I’m still struggling in life, fighting to accomplish the most mundane and typical things, and my age and the fact that I still feel like a child (at least emotionally) brings with it a whole new hefty layer of frustration. I keep thinking: emotionally I am five but my body is five years away from forty. I remember like yesterday when my own parents were forty. And I know its pointless to measure yourself against others, but I look at almost anyone my age and I feel like a total impostor. Its just one more way that I feel as if I just don’t belong.

I am not my body. I am not my thoughts. I am not my emotions. And I should have gained some mastery over them by now, I feel, but they seem to have gained the upper hand, stretching evermore skyward.

It feels as though I have become a slave to everything around me, all I hold within. I know if I did not have the friends and family that I at best keep at a distance and at worst lash out at that I would be a vagrant, that I would be nowhere and nothing and that eats away at me. The guilt I feel for running to them for help all the time, the shame of being unable to make my own way and own my own life, my embarrassment at fucking up the simplest of things — it all just keeps adding up and weighing me down. Now, at the typical “do or die” point I inevitably reach, I find myself turning back towards the hope of better living through internal alchemy.