Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Second Coming - Devendra Banhart

Ohmygod I'm in love. Because his words say it way better than mine:

"...My sweet Tel Avivian lamb's bread
My heart can act as an emollient
And you'll never ever say
Get bent!

No, no
Todamama todamama
Todamama todamama

All the signals that I'm sending I'll keep sending
And on the constantillionth time
I'll make you mine
Yes, I swear I will

Your sweet supple breasts are golden ghettos
Soft statues in stilettos
Two wise men instead of three
Whoa, whoa"

Thanks a million, Pri.

And I'm Sure You'll Agree

Some days I wake up and take a good, deep look at myself and I wonder how on God's green earth anyone could ever love someone like me.

Thankfully, that's only some days.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Go Ask Alice

"For me, life begins at forty," he said with a beautiful, bright smile. But the smile was merely an arc over years of pain and suffering, of not knowing which way was up, of a four inch long scar over his leg and in the hearts of all his loved ones. The 40-year-old drug addict sat across from me, barely three months clean, smiling and making light of his plight.

You name it, he had taken it over the course of 20 hellish years. Grass, glue, heroin and eventually a cocktail of Subutex and sleeping pills. All his veins had collapsed from repeated syringe use, all his money had been frittered away. All his veins had collapsed and he'd had serious surgery after ruining his leg from excessive injections. He'd been to jail and back, and in his own words, broken his mother's heart. He was a great guy, funny, obviously smart and with a zest for life despite his chequered past.

"It's really really nice here," he added, gesturing to the blue sky and green fields outside, "But on Sunday I'll have reached my third month and I'll be able to see my mother again. I've really hurt her."

The second addict I talked to was soft-spoken with a little rabbit of a grin and eyes that crinkled up when he was shy or amused. Once I learned to get over my fear of the tattoos and the fact that his hands trembled and twitched, I liked him very much. He was great too. He had woken up one morning realising that he'd pissed his life away and went cold turkey instantly. It was not without consequences. As his body shut down and he fainted in a haze of weakness, he forced hospital nurses to tie him down to the bed for three weeks so that he wouldn't run away for once more fix.

He's separated from his wife and 11 year old daughter and his family, who rejected him through his addiction, took a long time to accept and trust him again.

The home was full of them, arms riddled with needles scars, some half-blind, shuffling around in regulation slippers and shorts, waiting for the day when they would finish rehab so they could go out and see their families again.

They're just a few in thousands and thousands of people around the world.

I wrote a story on sleeping pills this week, and how people get addicted to them, crawling down the rabbit hole to relax or sleep and never coming out. Except most of the time, it's not a rabbit but a wolf that waits with bared teeth on the other end.

And I came out of it feeling angry, the same way I got mad when I worked in probation, the same way I was mad when I volunteered with Action for Aids. Life isn't fair. The webs of fate and chance make sure of that. But as if that isn't enough, there are choices that people are forced to make every single day and there are those who will help push them in the wrong direction - the peddlers, the criminals who coax children who don't know any better, the parents who don't care.

I felt deeply and strongly when the person who ran the home told me that it was a huge struggle for him to pull funds in - when it's a children's home, everybody trips over themselves trying to help the poor innocent angels. But with drug abusers, there's the sense of smug self-satisfaction and avoidance. After all, "they deserve it, they brought it upon themselves."

Maybe to an extent that's true. Addicts make choices up till the point when the choices make them. And then it's usually too late to change.

But people will always make mistakes. They'll always take a path that in hindsight they should never have taken or think they know what they're doing when in actual fact they may not. The severity and consequences of the errors vary. But at heart, I like to believe that most people are nice and mostly well-intentioned. To tread upon them when they're honestly trying to repent is inhumane.

It is one of my deepest, darkest, most paranoid fears that things will happen to my loved ones because they will make these mistakes. I've woken crying from nightmare-ish visions of my brothers overdosing on something or someone dying in a car crash because they forgot to put on their seatbelts. It's the reason I nag and worry so much. I'm almost pathological about warning people against things, to the point that some people think I'm a neurotic control freak. I only worry because I love them so.

I haven't been unfortunate enough to lose someone this way. Pals have had brief dalliances with Diazepam and alcohol, but by and large, I've never had to go through the trauma of seeing someone slip through my fingers while desperately yearning to help them. And I'd like to keep it that way.

My week has taught me this:

The website of the Narcotics Bureau here doesn't tell you a lot of things. Instead of explaining how good pot makes you feel (others' words, not mine), they say in a cagey, roundabout way that it causes confusion and memory loss among other things. They don't mention anything that is pleasurable about drugs and make everything seem disproportionately harmful. I've always thought that smacked of a paternalistic government who was trying to brainwash citizens into seeing dope and the harsh, even death-inducing laws governing them through their eyes. I've always felt the slightest bit miffed at the biased information and the officious tone in which it is delievered.

But seeing what I've seen now, maybe what they're doing isn't that bad. Drugs will fuck you up. They can completely ruin your life and the lives of those who love you. Same as not wearing your seatbelt. Same as jaywalking. Same as drinking too much.

So I'm going to go all paternalistic too and say: for the love of God, just don't do it. Stay away for all those people who love you now, and all those people who will love you in time to come, because life is too short to waste it in the clutches of death by choice.

Because you're someone's mother, sister, brother, father, soulmate, lover, friend.

Don't do it because I love you.

And because life can begin at forty for a few, but some are just not lucky enough to get there.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Things We Said Today

"Unlike other people," he asserts frequently and without a trace of irony, "I have a sense of honour."

Behind his back, I'm always rolling my eyes energetically. Because a statement like that from anybody tells me: you're not only clueless about other people, you know nothing of honour either.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Rock of Ages

Sometimes he really exasperates me to the point of wanting to strangle him. And then, something happens to make me change my mind, vis:

Bro says: hmmm, is this part of some deliberate plan or a knee jerk reaction to temporarily prevent things from spiraling out of control?

And then before I can think to reply,

Bro says: either way, i am here for you sis. :)

No bones about it dude, I know you are.

The Truth Is

She loves everything you love,
and maybe you, someday.

Swift and clean and clear like glass,
Lomo eyes too brave by half

love and learn -
she kneels at earth's altar, dancing just out of reach.
Listen to her
blind you with the rooms she's seen,
the snake charmer's flute;
Six years of spoor.

Take her.
It's a map of what you've prayed for,
unfettered, not an accident.

Love her, for I'm just a trite slut,
and with no more tricks up my sleeves,
arms flayed bare to the bone.
I'd no sooner die than lose you
And if I cannot hold you,
I'd rather give you away.

I would forge you in her white-hot fire,
if only I dared.