I Still Got It. Hahahahaha.

July 17, 2012

On Saturday afternoon I was doing some extra work (cleaning carpets) for my uncle in a law office building I sometimes help clean in Haddonfield, New Jersey. It was an arts fair day so the front of the building and the whole street was closed down and filled with vendor’s tents. My co-worker and I would take breaks outside and catch a smoke.

 

One of those breaks a beautiful Japanese woman came up to me real friendly asking how I was. Since her and her friend were dressed in similar floral print dresses and she was holding what looked like a post card in her hand I assumed she was going to try and sell me something. My co-worker complimented her pretty dress and I nodded in agreement. She kept smiling and making semi-flirtatious small talk and I was still waiting for a sales pitch that never came.

 

She asked me what work I was doing after asking me why I was there. I told her cleaning carpets. She smiled and said that was much better then working at the mall. The whole encounter only lasted about 5 minutes and she said goodbye and it was great to see me again. Again? As she was walking away in the distance it hit me that I knew her. She used to be a customer of mine when I was a server at a restaurant at the mall. A regular customer of mine. I used to know her by name. Damn, she is beautiful.

 

There I was with a beautiful sexy young woman flirting with me and I not only did nothing about it but I didn’t even know what was going on. This has happened many times before especially the not knowing a woman was into me until after the fact usually when someone tells me. I guess my self esteem is low, my memory is bad and I forgot what it’s like to be around women. Things are going to change. I mean to say things are going to change even more or I’m going to miss out on some prime opportunities in life.

To quote the great Ralph Malph from Happy Days “I still got it.”.

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Mind is Under Construction, Sexy Asian Neurologist and Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)

May 11, 2012

Sorry for not filling these pages for a while faithful and infidelic readers. My mind and body have been under major construction and most of my creative focus has been drained on the artistic outlets that I make money on and the rest of my energy is kind of lost. I’ve been lost yet searching while waiting for my mental, physical and spiritual portals to show me some light and it’s been found. Perhaps the following will explain a little so be patient or skip to the good parts.

As always- thanks for reading.

Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)

I recklessly take new medications with out reading the label and the big slip describing all of the side effects. I take the pill then either the pill works, doesn’t work I feel the side effects or I don’t. Then I read the side effects if something feels wrong.

I finally went to see a neurologist after 5 years of being diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, a facial nerve disorder is how I describe I to most people but it’s much deeper than that or it wouldn’t be nick-named as the “suicide disease”.

 

It took 5 or 6 months of waiting for this appointment because having Medicaid as my insurance I am on a lower priority rank at the office. Medicaid even provides me with rides to and from my house which can be nerve racking and a God send at different times depending who the driver is.

I met with a beautiful Asian Dr named Dr Tracey Wang. I was expecting an old unattractive woman for some reason. I don’t even know why this was an issue-I guess it was more of a passing observation. She did a lot of standard physical tests like reflexes on my legs, knees, arms, legs and even my face. I was in pain when I got there and purposely didn’t take any of my pain meds so she could see my pain if possible. The cold medal of her small reflex tool did cause pain on my face.

When she was finished checking my pain she moved on to tell me what steps I need to take next. She wrote a referral for an MRI and another brain scan of the face that I can’t remember what it’s called, a referral to pain management who may be able to write prescriptions for pain medications because this doctor my new family doctor do not like to prescribe pain medicine. Hopefully I won’t need pain medication with the new anti-seizure medication.

I filled my prescription for the new medication Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal) on my way to stay at my mother’s. I stay there every Friday night in case my uncle needs me to help him with work on Saturdays doing minor office cleaning a few blocks from my mom’s house. I was planning to stay at mom’s until the following Tuesday in case my sick aunt needed watching over if my uncle had to go anywhere like his Doctor appointments because my mom had preplanned a vacation. I watched some television and did a little writing and went t bed at a decent hour because I was called into work for 8 am Saturday morning. I took the Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal) for the first time that night.

I woke up late with little time to get ready and have coffee the next morning and I couldn’t get off the couch I normally sleep on. My face was half numb and half hurting. My arms were numb and semi seizuring. My eyes were blurred and swollen. I made some quick instant coffee and could barely hold the cup. I took all of my morning medications and debated skipping the new one but took one anyway assuming this was all just a side effect that will pass. I sat on the porch and tried to steady myself for a morning smoke and coffee with shaking hands and face. I called one of the other workers to let him know that I was running late. He made a sarcastic remark about me hurrying up that I took serious and sent my anxiety through the roof. I eventually settled a bit and got my ass off to work. My co-workers looked at me like I looked the way I felt. I felt like I had the worst hangover ever. I haven’t had a drink in a while either. I went to work slowly but found myself feeling better once the pain medications kicked in. I made it through work and then a visit to see my uncle and aunt. Great aunt and her “man” of almost 20 years. That’s another story. I eventually made it back to my mom’s and was in and out of it for the next 4 or 5 days.

Every day I’d wake up at different times with various symptoms and deal with it the best I could. I watched a lot of television and barely did any drawing, writing or reading. My mind and body went through changes each day. I did manage to check the side effects each day to make sure most of them were normal ones and I didn’t need to go to the hospital or stop taking the new medication. Since I had to stay at my mom’s anyway I stayed “on call” until Thursday when I had a group therapy thing that night with rides set up through medical insurance . .bla blah.. If you’re still with me folks keep reading. I might actually have a point to these 3 pages of 16 point type.

What I thought was going to be a mini-vacation at my mom’s house for 4 days turned into a 5-day rehabilitation and medication adjustment. The seizures and numbness lessened and now I am just numb in the tongue for some reason. The pain lessened the 2nd day and my dizziness and sleepiness continued but that’s understandable because I take several pills with the same side effect.

This is the first time that I am giving new medications for my Trigeminal Neuralgia and my bipolar a chance for more than a few days in a while. Usually, if I don’t like the side effects I stop. Also, having jobs and many commitments I had to stop taking come meds or I’d lose my job and relationships. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have the freedom and time to give medications the proper time to work through my system and adjust to them and see if they will work. It’s also the first time I feel hope and faith through the temporary side effects to feel better. If it means a few weeks or a few months to find out so be it.

I might end up stop taking some of them and trying it again and that’s ok also because I’ve learned that treating rare neuralgic disorders and mental illness is not an exact science. Sometimes faith and hope is the most important ingredient to the recipe of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellness.

Oh yeah -Doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists therapists, group therapy and 12-step meetings are also part of the mix to my personal recovery. If I keep it all balances and don’t let myself get overwhelmed then I might even grow up and out of whatever it is I am now and was before


My First Acid Trip

March 11, 2012

 

“Rich, I just took a shit. I think I shit the acid out of my system.” Matt said.

 

“Is that possible?” I said watching the old-fashioned land line telephone bend and almost melt on my distorted hand.

 

Matt was freaking out and obviously still tripping on the acid we took a couple hours earlier. We shouldn’t have parted ways. Maybe I should have told him he better not flush it and find the hit of acid in his shit but I had my own demons to deal with. I was home with my family and on acid for the first time. I hid in my room trying to enjoy the trip.

 

It started earlier that day in High School. It was my Sophomore Year. By then I did drugs like candy when it was available.  Whenever the candy man came around with different pills, powders, types of marijuana and hashish or basically anything I tried it. Everything was cheap enough and I loved new experiences. So when he showed up at lunch time with a sheet of paper cut into tiny smaller than quarter inch squares of what was called blotter acid I was one of the first of our 15- 20 members of the “freak” gang to try it.

 

All of the kids that hung out across the street from the school before and after school smoking cigarettes and doing drugs when we had them were labeled as “freaks”. I liked the nickname and as Jimi Hendrix advised I wore my “Freak Flag high”. When I finally saw the 1931 Todd Browning’s film Freaks years later I appreciated the title even more. I even understood the lyrics to “Freaks by Alice Cooper and “Pinhead” by the Ramones after seeing the movie.

 

The group of us put the little square of paper on our tongues, some of us not knowing what to expect but looking forward to it, right after lunch. We made it to 7th period before it kicked in. Around 5 or 6 of us were in the same class taking a test for a health class. Back then they used the computer print out cards to fill out our multiple choice answers with out number 2 pencils now waving up and down in my hand as I stared at the yellow card morphing into various types of paper and creatures. I didn’t panic. I was just hoping that the teacher and other students wouldn’t notice but me acting weird in High School would have been no surprise at that point anyway. I didn’t bother trying to read the test questions at that point. I just drew designs that intrigued me on the yellow card with the red circled multiple choices with my pencil and handed it in and waited to be dismissed. The 6 of us watched each other and gave the smile saying “Wow. This is awesome.” Except for the one kid who was freaking and looking around the classroom. I learned a new term that day- “bad trip.” I also learned that some people can’t handle some drugs and some can’t handle any. I, of course, was superior and handled mine fine. By fine I mean I enjoyed the drug of the day.

 

The last period of school was study hall and we ditched sitting in the cafeteria and hung in the senior lounge with the Juniors and Seniors who were cool about it most of the time. We sat quietly and watched tv for the most part. Everything was moving that’s not supposed to move. As much as it freaked me out I was loved it. I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring so I could leave school and experience . . .

 

I walked home with my best friend of the year and band mate (which makes us family in the Rock n Roll world) Matt and another friend Mark my future best friend and band mate and to become more of an expert on drugs than Matt and myself combined. We cut through the woods and smoked cigarettes and pot. As we re-entered the streets of suburbia we ran into the keyboardist of our band, Alex who was straighter than a clichéd arrow that wasn’t bending if we saw one. He was Mr honor roll and advanced classes and all that ear morphing jazz and we were trying to conceal our psychedelic hallucinations and reality stretches as he talked his large teeth grew larger and larger and they looked there was another set of teeth coming out of his mouth like the alien in the movie Alien. When he started hissing and resembling the alien entirely I mumbled something and motioned Matt and Mark to follow me but they were busy staring and talking to rocks and bushes. Our jig was up. Alex knew something was sour in the grapevine cement we carefully paced upon. Eventually, we made it out of there safely and my house was only a few blocks away. I knew I could make it. Mark was only a few blocks from me but Matt had another mile to go.

 

Somewhere along the linear curly line to my house from the nappy black tar beneath our feet I lost sight of my destination and my friends. They were gone. I couldn’t see them anyway. I made it home and presented my parental greetings brief as I counted the moving and swerving steps to my safe getaway bedroom. Or so I thought.

 

Music. I wanted to hear some music to trip on acid to. I went for the king of hallucinatory drugs and the greatest guitar player in my teenage world, Jimi Hendrix. I used to hallucinate to his music totally straight and sober. I couldn’t wait to hear the music of a man who was rumored to dip his headband in liquid acid and cut his forehead open to absorb the drug faster. Electric Ladyland or Axis Bold as Love? I couldn’t decide. I still can’t 20 years later. I chose Electric Ladyland because of the right to left to right to left stereo sound designed to make my head spin. I carefully placed the needle on the groove of side 1 of 4 on my archaic record player. I let the genius chaotic madness of “…And the Gods Made Love.”

 

I made it through the opening (some say the greatest opening and I agree, on a rock n roll album) with the distorted voices of Hendrix indistinguishable from my own disfigured voices drifting in my psyche. Painful yet disorienting pleasure filled the room rivaled by electric guitars passing through every manipulative device made and invented at the time before reaching my ears. I made it to the 3rd track “Crosstown Traffic” before I had to turn it off due to the visual and audio hallucinations gone haywire. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the auditory attack but it was new to me and I wanted to calm down. I tried to find the least psychedelic music to listen to and pulled out my copy of the Blues Brothers’ “A Briefcase Full of Blues”, their album before the classic John Landis movie came out, thinking for some reason it would be less hallucinatory. Even the steady beats and blues guitars were no match for what I was experiencing.

 

When I later listened to Jimi Hendrix ask “Have you ever been experienced?” in his song “Are You Experienced?” I not only comprehended the question for the first time, I could answer “Yes.”. For the time I was experiencing and not quite experienced yet.

 

I decided to go with the quiet and draw. I wanted to cram all of artistic clichés into my first acid trip not knowing if I would ever do it again. I attacked drawing first.  I drew a pencil sketch of Jim Morrison once I could concentrate and was way too distracted to finish it. I have it buried somewhere in a drawing pad buried somewhere in my vast art collection of my own work. I tried writing a poem, something about my friend’s alien teeth and it was also too much for me at the time. I went back to listening to music and watching the ceiling tiles breathe until dinnertime.

 

My parents had invited my friend Doug over for dinner. I forgot. Doug was also very straight. He was one of my friends that actually looked the part of what society thought a drug user should look like. Long hair, scraggly half grown beard that wouldn’t quite grow yet. T-shirts and ripped jeans. He was very political and listened to psychedelic bands that the rest o weren’t into like the Jefferson Airplane. I was told he wasn’t always like this. He used to wear suits to school as a kid and bring his brief case. He predicted the weather to his fello 5th graders every morning. He changed by the time I moved to Haddonfield and met him in 8th grade. We bonded over our mutual lack of female attention, our dark sense of humor and our ability to discuss our feelings with another man or boy.

 

He knew I was on acid but my parents didn’t. I had to fake it through the meal and let everyone else do the talking. They did. At one point my father’s head was changing colors and contorting and I almost blew my cover again.

 

“You know, you look like . . . never mind.” I said.

 

That was the extent of my dinner conversation when the phone call from Matt saved the day.

 

 

“Rich, I just took a shit. I think I shit the acid out of my system.” Matt said.

 

“Is that possible?” I said watching the old-fashioned landline telephone bend and almost melt on my distorted hand.

 

At the end of the day when it started to wear off I decided I liked acid. I only did it a few more times in high school. I stuck with what was available the most: alcohol, weed and the occasional amphetamine. I always remembered my great experiences on acid and when I found steady suppliers in college and after I graduated I took it whenever I could. It seemed t have a reverse effect on me. I felt more in control on the drug that made most people feel out of control.

 

I don’t use drugs today except the ones my Doctor prescribes and I take them as directed but it’s not the same. Not to say I miss them. It’s like ex-girlfriends for me. I remember the good times then remember it all comes to an end.

 

Self-proclaimed addicts shouldn’t dream about how great their drugs were without remembering why they quit to begin with or is it end with.

 

Like all of my firsts- my first girlfriend, first time on the honor roll, first award for my art and poetry, first time I had sex and so on, I’ll never forget the first time I took acid.

image © Jon Kroll and Dave Bohn


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