"If writers possess a common temperament, it's that they tend to be shy egomaniacs; publicity is the spotlight they suffer for the recognition they crave." Gail Caldwell, from her book "Let's Take The Long Way Around"

"To look life in the face, always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. . .always the years. Always the love. Always the hours." From the movie "The Hours", based on the book of the same name by Michael Cunningham

"Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly." Baz Luhrman, "Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen)"

"A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibility of their own souls." Walt Whitman

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant or talented?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” Marianne Williamson

Monday, September 2, 2013

Thelonious Monster

First, forgive me, if this post comes out all muddled.  I need to write today, and these ideas just started forming in my head so I wanted to get them out.  I'll try to put something coherent on the page.

I just finished reading the advanced readers' copy of "Running With Monsters" by Bob Forrest.  Reality TV fans will know him from "Celebrity Rehab", the self-named "guy with the hat."  He's Dr. Drew's sidekick, one of the counselors.  Music connoisseurs will know him from punk rock days in the late 80's and 90's.  His band was "Thelonious Monster," and I'll admit, I'd never heard of them before this I read Forrest's book.  I looked them up on YouTube and listened to some of their music, and I actually kind of liked it.  Not really my style but anyway, that's not the point.  The point of reading the book was that it is his chronicle of his life as an alcoholic and drug addict, all the while trying to be a successful musician which was pretty much impossible given that he was drunk or high all the time.  And then his sobriety, which he actually doesn't talk much about.  He just decided, finally, to get sober and stay sober.  There are much better books out there that are much more thoughtful and searching than Bob Forrest's.

I have this thing for reading about real-life alcoholics and drug addicts, and if they happen to be celebrities, so be it.  This mini-obsession comes, I'm sure, from my experience with my dad's addictions and Direll's drug abuse.  So I was reading the book and trying to like it and get lost in the craziness of his downward spiral, trying to learn about how he got where he was and where he is today.  It was okay.  I think I had a nightmare one night about drugs while I was in the middle of reading it, so I thought about stopping but I wanted to know how it turned out.

And it made me kind of mad.  I mean, he's very nonchalant about his drug use and the people he hung out with.  While he doesn't play down how bad off he was, there was nothing that made me want to root for him to get clean.  It's a book about musicians, I suppose, and celebrity lifestyles.  He's a big wannabe, if you ask me, but I keep trying to stop myself from making judgments.  The most honest part of the book was when he describes River Phoenix's death, which he witnessed.

I don't know.  I guess what this book did was inspire feelings in me about my dad.  I can't pretend to know what was going on with my dad when he wanted to use and drink.  I can make suppositions.  I can make up stories in my head to make him seem more sympathetic to me, like he was clinically depressed and undiagnosed.  He probably had generalized anxiety disorder, too.  Beyond that, I don't know.  Maybe what bugs me and makes me think about my dad while I think about Bob Forrest is that Bob Forrest is not exactly a sympathetic character in his own story.  He just used and used and didn't give any thought to the people in his life, like his wives or his accidental son.  Even his supposed "real" friendships seem superficial, and I guess that's what I don't like to think about my dad.  I've defended my dad my entire life, made him into some fallen hero.  I know he loved me, but at times, he loved drugs and alcohol more.  That's just the truth, otherwise, he wouldn't have done a lot of the things he did at the expense of his relationships with his children.

Deril and I were watching some reality crime show on TV the other day, and part of the story involved a mother who was so fucked up she missed her daughter's birthday party.  "Can you believe a mother would miss her own daughter's birthday party?" Deril asked me, honestly bewildered.  And how did I respond?  Without even trying, I answered, completely emotionally detached, "Well, my dad missed my high school graduation."  I suppose I wasn't so detached that there wasn't a hint of bitterness, but the answer came out so fast and easy that Deril felt like the most insensitive jerk on the planet.  He didn't know.  It  wasn't his fault.  After all, there are so many stories I could tell, I forget what I've told Deril and what I haven't.

I'm glad for Bob Forrest that he got sober and is straight and doing what he can to help other people.  The other thing that reminded me of my dad was that Forrest went to Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, CA, and that's the hospital my dad went to for detox and rehab.  Matt and Julie and I visited him once while he was there.  It's very pretty, very green.  It looks like the complete opposite of what the patients are probably going through.

Anyway, I guess that's all I have to say about that.  Family, friends, don't feel like you have to make me feel better about my dad.  I know who he was at heart; I don't have to be reminded.  It's just that sometimes, the shitty stuff comes out and there's nothing to be done but look at it for what it was.  My dad loved me, and he still relapsed.  He loved me, and I watched him get drunk and high right in front of me more times than I'd like to count.  He loved me, and he tied a noose and hung himself off his balcony.  I have to live with that.

It's because of that that I have this sometimes annoying habit of finding the bright side of everything.  Oh, I take antidepressants and have had some serious bouts of depression and anxiety, but I'd never consider suicide, and it's because of what he did.  I'm going to be morose for a moment - don't panic!  Because he took his life, he forces me to live mine, and sometimes I don't want to.  But I'll never to do my family what he did to me, and I resent him for it.

Anyway - well, I was going to apologize for my honesty here, but I changed my mind.  I had to get this out of my head, and I had to write something down - you know, get the garbage out so I can write something good.  Will I ever?

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