Thursday, July 19, 2012

Living In Hell



The cockroaches were only outnumbered by the maggots
I will see your Nasal Myasis and raise you one set of multiple personalities and severe depression.

This has been a real journey down the rabbit hole of mental illness. Another reason why I laugh when people tell me Mexico is dangerous. Yeah. Maybe we don't travel in the same social circles because the people I meet are as mentally stable as Dynamite. Cartel thugs don't scare me like sharp knives and 9/11 Truthers off their medications. I was staying with a woman we'll call B. Let me tell you about this...

Can you smell the death and cigarette smoke?

So, as you know I've been trolling for a caretaker's job that will give me a place to live for my plumbing services and give me time to work at getting a job that pays with the laughably false Federal Reserve paper. I didn't think it would lead me to Rich Widow's Lane where elderly oil widows would shower me with cash and gifts to arrange their Begonia garden. But I really hoped it wouldn't lead me to the opposite extreme of a suicidal broke person looking for someone to blame her last mental collapse on. Such is my fate. B. is destined for the state hospital or the noose (I didn't take a picture of the nails she put up to hold the noose but they were arranged in a cluster of anger and hostility near the pencil sharpener from 1963 that her parents intentionally installed too high for her to reach)

Early Times encouraging Mental Despair. Only men drink doubles.
I'm amazed at the parallels between B's mental paradigm and my own. And that scares and sobers me a little and also has me rearranging my own paradigm. Yes, the resentments are similar, the subtle manipulations from family, the ulterior motives (or perceived motives to destroy and belittle) that amplify with the years and failures of motherhood and finance. The platitudes do not apply and they never should as that's the projection of normal folk onto an individual with her own world view. For example, I believe mankind is gang raping the environment. It's hard to deny that's true. But when it comes my turn to get in on the action, I hesitate, I resist and this leads to a persecution complex...which is justified in the mind of a gang rapist who defiles the planet without compunction. So, is my hesitation and non conformity the problem? After watching B defend obviously damaging stones and laws and regulations of her own (saving crusty rotting toothbrushes on the premise that they will one day be used to clean and scrub the tile grout that is currently under piles of rotting cockroach bodies, and when I mean "saving" I mean taking out of the trash after I put them in the trash bag with a scolding lecture on waste and budget and ecology) I am thinking my own principles are in fact the problem...and the environment is being gang raped. They are two separate issues.
I've actually given that same lecture before regarding plastic bags and aluminum cans and boycotting Walmart. I have saved the broken horn from my van even though they are $5 at a junk yard. I reuse dental floss. Is my van a hoarder's pyramid of waste in the name of conservation? Maybe. I have two boxes of sheet music that I plan to use to write my essays on the romance and allure of vintage sheet music. It's a legitimate project and I'm the right author but the box of sheet music occupies the space in my van where all my pots should go. So the pots must go on the tool bench and every time I want a screwdriver to repair B's failed plumbing (which led to shutting off the water main to save water, which led to the dishes never getting washed etc.) then I must move the moped and move the pots on top of the guitar and get the screwdriver. It's all because I believe in my ability to write this essay on vintage sheet music...which I presume I'll write in jail or at a homeless shelter. My point is that we all have our justifications and my own and B's are no more extreme than the makers of Early Times Whiskey, but we're totally out of sync with commercial exploitation and that's en vogue right now so the outsider gets marginalized and mental illness gets amplified.

The joke is that there is some solution to our defective worldview. Like therapy will reconfigure our priorities. B is 63 and after 20 years of therapy she has surrounded herself with mountains of broken Atari games, cat shit and maggots. Where would she be without therapy? In the land of the pig, the one-eyed hog is king. Conformity isn't the answer in my opinion because there is an abundance of false pretense and misplaced smiles on collagen implant lips. The world really doesn't need any more falsity and the environmental gang rape line is out the door so I really think like when I'm at the Dollar store and I'm holding a can of chips and a bag of granola bars and 6 people are standing in front of me and an old lady is farting and a blind retarded kid opens a bag of doritos and they fly everywhere and the person at the cashier is arguing over an out of date coupon from another store and the cashier has "In Training" tattooed on her forehead. And I think, "Really? You are going to wait in line, in this line, to pay money for the garbage that is in your hand?" And I shrug and put my items in front of a gross gossip magazine and I skip around the farting old lady and the retard and the wheelchair bound grandpa and the kid with candy in his mouth and the coupon lady and I'm out the door. That's really the best metaphor for America as I can come up with now. We're all waiting in a long long annoying line of greasy faced assholes at a Dollar store to buy crap that we don't need. But I'm stuck. That's really what it amounts to. I'm stuck in line. I need to make a final relocation to the jungle where they dream of dollar store lines but I'm holding onto this foolish box of sheet music and tools and a broken horn.

I wonder if it's all a coincidence that I would meet someone like B. and see her reflection as myself in 23 years, still resentful at the world, living amongst people I consider beneath me, pointing out the man trying to commit disability fraud, everyone on the dole, crooked politicians, environment decaying, hateful, depressed, blaming the world for our failures. I've seen it before and I realize there is absolutely no guarantee people get better. No. These resentments can definitely accompany you to your grave. The old platitude, "Things'll get better." It's a simplified lie and actually does more harm than good but we're animals manipulated by heaven and hell so maybe that's our trigger point. Things may not get better. Sick people may never get well. Sad people may live with sadness forever. People drink and become such accomplished drinkers that it's the one thing they believe they are good at so they use it to sooth their self-esteem. B has become so adept at the story of her victimization (trust me that she was victimized) that it's her own epic treatise that she writes with every phone call to complain about the quality of coffee in her H.E.B bag. She's gotten so good at seeing the world through the mirror of her own victimization that she's more content being miserable. But she also needs someone to confirm her own misery and that's where Oggy came in. But in Oggy's traditional fashion of untraditional insult I greedily exploit her own misery for my own fanfare. I'll add her own memories like Hannibal Lecter to my buffett of misery that I pick at with chopstick fingers and apply to my memoirs. (I went from thinking this is a perfect documentary project, to trying to video some of it, to losing my balance on roach corpses, to dodging knives and hate, to stepping in dog shit from 1997, to fleeing in the scorching heat)

Her father's final words to her were, "Hey, Stupid!" I heard that story 5 times in two days until I could recreate the actual event with the Early Times glass in her father's hand, the incomplete crossword puzzle, the tongue biting mother through the dusty lace curtains in the apron, the pencil sharpener too high for B to reach, hidden with the water heater, the distant music from the neighbor's yard.

Why do hoarders fail to organize things? Ah, the psychology is there...in a dark family with hidden betrayals and casual shame where everything is stored in locked drawers with bruised ego and unloving fists, when adulthood comes with its partnership of too much stuff to deal with, some people can throw away the excess and some people hoard it in the open as a metaphor for their own effort to redeem what was abducted when they were 6 years old and desirous to sharpen a pencil but the sharpener was just out of reach...away with dark spiders and roaches and near the evil whiskey bottle. They'd get a chair to climb up and reach to sharpen the pencil, to finish their homework to surmount this small challenge with inklings of intentional misery and the father would scare them, "Hey Stupid, What are you doing?" and the kid would lose her balance, fall against the chair, bruise her arm, maybe even impale her leg with the dull pencil to encourage her father to nod in triumph, "There goes Stupid again, being stupid." and reach for a man's double shot of Early Times. I see it all and the fragile child is broken and broken again and broken again and again for years and it doesn't get better with drugs or with travel or with therapy or with her own daughter (in Prison, battered) no and why would it? What magic fairy would fix this shattered clay chiminea? Oggy can't fix it because he can't even throw away a toothbrush covered with maggots.
"That's not trash. I can use that. That's how I survive."
Her mantra is "That's how I survive." against a backdrop of despair and nails for hemp noose.
So, all these hidden bruises are now on display. See? She keeps the pencil sharpener in the dark closet as a monument to her abuse but everything else is within her reach, technically. She can see everything. Nothing is hidden from her like her parents dangled piano lessons just out of reach or good ballet shoes on the condition that she jump through psychic hoops too small for her frame. See? The whole story is in the collection. Maybe she knows it's a crisis (why else did she call me to ask for help) but one of her personalities is an echo of her parents calling her stupid for throwing away a perfectly reusable toothbrush so I can't help her...but maybe she has helped me see the gravity of mental illness...even if she has a good point about the Republican party. It's irrelevant to her situation.

(Young Parents need not worry of inflicting mental illness on your child, unless you are filled with hate for the child and the world. Then you should worry.)

If I am mentally ill then it's my job to utilize it for the good of my writing. This is the artist's job: to direct his energies to creation. I don't want to hoard words. I don't want to be a manager at Big Lots because that is for the Prozac nation to be content with television and consumption and placid amusements of the bread and circus paradigm. No, I'll be the cave painter who is scorned until he paints in secrecy. Has anyone else read "Moon and Sixpence" by Maugham? There comes a point when the artist no longer hides his art although his new road is toward obscurity and leprosy. But is he content? He has his cache of tattered memories from the hard roads of secret America. Who can say? B gave me a glass of hot tea and after I drank most of it I saw three dead cockroaches floating in the bottom of the glass.
Take your Prozac!
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.