Monday, February 9, 2009
(part 135) CRUMBLING REALITY
Once again I was just out there, loaded and angry. I did not have the capacity to deal rationally with the world around me. My emotions, out of nowhere, would explode in a frenzy of rage, leading me to do exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. I did not do this occasionally, but repeatedly for the next few years.
I truly was my own worst enemy, and unfortunately lived inside my own head, which was similar to driving a car with a broken windshield. I could see out, but everything coming in was distorted by the multiple cracks in the glass.
Seeking real help was never a priority in my twisted thinking. I would rationalize everything down to my troubles with the music business. My singular focus, right or wrong, was them, and not me, and the "me" was going to make vividly clear to "them", how deep my resentment ran.
Without a normal set of daily rules or routine, I was like a pinball bouncing off each moment without any particular direction. Day to day events set the tone in my life, not rational thought.
In many ways I was just completely lost, and lived like an animal fighting for small scraps, which I managed to wrestle away from the world. I clung to my own self-image like a selfish child protects his favorite toy.
To know me then, depended on which one of my various personalities you were encountering. On a good day, I was friendly and quick witted; on a bad day, I was even quicker, and could turn on you in an instant.
Some of these same traits still haunt me today, but in a more muted way. When you have been where I ended up, it is easy to see both the similarities as well as the differences, a reality not very well understood by people who think they know me.
Back in the 70's, the extreme nature of my deficits as a human being were so blatant, that only by personal experience with the, then "me," and the now "me," would you be able to accurately measure any hard-won progress.
I stood on crutches like a wobbly stack of blocks, now forced to relearn the art of balance. Alone and ashamed, and with no prospects of any kind, I fought to take a single step without crashing to the ground.
As I plodded forward, unnoticed by the world, I vowed to master my own limbs and take another step. One by one I accumulated each of those steps on my long path back.
Both my legs had withered over the five months in casts with no use at all. My muscles were like rubber, and collapsed repeatedly under my weight. My once proud gait had been lost to a now bumbling stumbling rhythmless stomp forward, aided by aluminum sticks.
My view of the world was a view of the ground ahead. While life moved on, I was now relegated, through my own actions, to learn to walk. As a mere shadow of my former self I fought to make sense of my continually crumbling reality.
With no money and no place to go, I once again turned to Carol Paulus for a hand out. Good bad or indifferent, she possessed the capacity, more than anyone else, to deal with me in my destructive madness, a reality I abused more than once.
Because of her own desire to be close to me, she tolerated, to her detriment, my endless insanity and poor behavior. As time passed, and with her help, I learned to walk on the crutches with more grace, but found myself still confined to a world of limitation.
During this period of deep frustration, and in the midst of an angry dispute with Carol, in Westwood, I demanded she take me to UCLA hospital where I stole a wheel chair. In another of a myriad of emotional outbursts, I set out through the streets of Westwood Village in the rolling death trap.
After making it up an incline, I suddenly began rolling, out of control, down a hill on the other side, crashing into the door of a yellow cab. The driver, scared half to death by the impact, stared out at me in a futile attempt to understand how I got there. He rolled down the window asking, "Are you OK man?" I smiled at him and said, "Can you take me to the airport?"
Without rhyme or reason and with no plan I headed for LAX and boarded, with great difficulty, a plane bound for Tucson, where my mother had moved during my time in the hospitals.
There, with the aid of my younger brother, Quentin, and a small monthly ATD (aid to the totally disabled) check, I would master the art of shooting heroin in a wheelchair and plan my next move.