There’s this part of the neighborhood I love to walk at night. It’s a generally shit area and at about 3 in the morning it’s essentially desolate except for the druggies and general city riff raff. The only thing breaking the city silence is the conversations people are having with telephone poles. There’s these long stretches of sidewalk that have some type of literal glitter in them. It gives me the feeling of safety and comfort – even hope. It’s where I’d hang my, Home Is Where the Heart Is wood plaque.

Recently the tiny Greek in a blazer said to me, about her life and career, “…Well it just has to work out. There’s no other choice. It won’t go down any other way.” In my life, I feel very certain that it will go down one of only two ways: You’ll be fine. Or…you’ll be a crack head.

Something I do effortlessly and reflexively, where ever I am, is snuff out where and with whom the danger/safety elements lay and, separately, who has drugs or can get them quickly. I like to keep my options close. I was walking today and remembered a close drug option I had. I considered it. The only problem with this moment is my life is such shit right now. It’s all so unsettled and I so easily succumb to my surroundings that if I start to go down any road, I could very well find myself there for the next few years if not decades.

It’s these fucked up beliefs I have about being unconditional and constantly adjusting, even when it’s shit. I’m sure that is partly conditioning and partly natural reaction. My sister told me this story about a girl at school who was constantly made fun of. The type of daily target developed in most horrid, child-circles. It was a catholic school and this girl, I guess, was one of the only black kids for probably miles. Glasses, braids – she sounds adorable. But the kids used to torment her by telling her she looked like a dinosaur. And of course that progressed, as all things do, to telling her she didn’t just look like a dinosaur, she actually was a dinosaur. Apparently she was following the “sticks and stones don’t break my bones rule”, and she never responded to them. Spent the year banking it, brushing it off, rising above, not reacting. A genuine MLK. Until one day, during recess, she finally broke and screamed, “FINE! FINE! I’LL ADMIT IT! …. I AM A DINOSAUR!”

In the end of this story I always wondered: Fuck! Did they finally break her? Did they get  to her? Or is she fucking brilliant? Did she pull the ‘act crazy and now everyone leaves you alone’ card?

In high school, I was in this special chorus group [lets take a moment to acknowledge just how mortifying this fact is] and I used to single out this one girl and pick on her. She was just a good kid. She was kind and simple. Did what she was told to do. Went to class, got good grades. Wore her hair tied half-up/half-down and sported airy, light-colored sundresses. There was nothing wrong with her. I, however, at the time am drinking vodka out of water bottles and taking  every-ten-minute trips to the bathroom to do more blow. They were having elections for this group to determine who would become president, vice, treasurer, etc. I had no desire to be there, forget run for fucking anything but at the moment I heard that she wanted to run for president I decided to take it upon myself to teach her an important lesson about social power and positions. I promptly ran for president, won, and elected two of my drug friends as vice and treasurer. We had some type of out-of-state field trip to go on so I fulfilled my duties of responsibility by ordering vice to pack the booze and treasurer to pack the drugs.

I kept a standard and necessary buzz until the last night when the director knocked on my hotel room door and said there were rumors going around that I might have drugs or booze. She said, “I’ll give you ten minutes to flush everything and get rid of it.”

Economically speaking, that’s ridiculous so I drank everything and ate all the drugs. I had failed to realize that in a few short minutes we were receiving some type of award and as president I had to go accept it in a ceremony. I remember the walk to the stage and my pleading with myself to remain erect. I remember standing there on the stage, next to this girl I had ‘beat’ for president. I remember looking at her and just noticing how normal she was, how content, how good. She was so much better than me and I made sure she had no idea.

Years later I looked her up and sent her a written apology. She kindly replied and also let me know that the apparent award I was accepting was first place.

I had this friend who used to suppress her laughter. Like when something genuinely hilarious happened, she’d hold it back. We would ask why and she’d explain she enjoyed hanging onto the memory and laughing about it later. Like on her own time. Fucking weirdo.

I suppose I unintentionally do the same thing with negativity, like grief or traumatic events. But I certainly don’t enjoy it. Here’s a hypothetical example of what that looks like in my life: My mother is brutally executed in front of my very eyes. I’m fine. I clean up the mess. We bury her. I console those about me. Cut to six months down the road. I’m drawing and the tip of my pencil snaps off. I throw the table across the room, destroy my apartment and finish the evening off by smoking a little dope with a guy named Paco who has a tear drop tattoo and has asked me to be his baby-mama at which point I say yes and lay down, spread eagle.

– JT

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