Overdose of Fog

I wrote the following poem in March of 1999 for my sophomore honors English class in high school.  For the topic of our poems, we were to pick a character from one of the books, short stories, or plays we had read during that semester.  I chose Mary from the play Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill.

Spoiler alert for a play published in 1956 (to give some setup for Mary’s character)- the play takes place over the course of one day with a particularly dysfunctional family.  Mary, the matriarch, is struggling with insomnia and morphine addiction and relapses.  She rambles on about how much she loves fog and hates the foghorn that they can see and hear from their seaside home.  Mary expresses regrets in her life, worries about her son’s health, waxes poetic about past happier times, and fantasizes about accidentally overdosing.  At midnight during the last act, Mary wanders the house high on morphine, carrying her old wedding gown.

Our class was to follow a formula for writing this particular poem.  I wish I still had it, but as you can guess, some lines had to be three -ing verbs.  One line had to compare her to a color, another line was used to compare her to a food.  Another line for her scent (where I referenced her wedding dress).  The second stanza included how she treats others, how others view her, and how I see her.  And so it goes.

I remember spending freshman and sophomore years of high school having a lot of fun learning about symbolism in literature and then struggling to write about it.  For Mary’s character, the way she talked about fog as synonymous with being high and numbing out (and hating the foghorn, because it was reality jarring her back), the symbolism for this poem practically wrote itself.

Behold:


Overdose of Fog

Mary

a kind but nervous woman,

lost in the soupy fog of a harbor on the bay.

drifting, floating, dreaming,

fooling, hiding, addicting.

a gray curtain of depression envelopes her.

she clings to the past like ivy to a wall,

scared to ever let go.

She longs for the pale blue twilight to turn to midnight purple.

she plays host to the darkness and the visiting damp, heavy screen of haze as it rolls in,

one comforting layer after another.

She treats others with worried love.

others react with sympathy, growing impatience, anger, and frustration.

They Want The Real Mary,

not the timid mouse she has become,

the one with fake glossy marbles for eyes,

scurrying through the shadows to avoid all possible reality.

I pity that mouse.

Mary

an empty Shell of a Body.

the scent of damp cement and dank clothing trails behind her.

Her flavor is that of moldy bread:

musty and rotting with old memories and regrets.

When will she take her next dose?

What else has she to live for?

An overdose of fog is all she needs…

…but damn that foghorn.


At the time I wrote this, I was very proud of it, and I am happy to report that I still am, all these years later.  Part of the reason why this poem stands out for me is because it was blindly voted the best in my class by my peers and earned a perfect grade as a result.

It was around this time that I first fancied myself as a writer with any kind of real potential, so sharing this early piece of writing more publicly is a gesture that I consider to be…vulnerable, but I also share it with excitement and pride in a show-and-tell kinda way.  You know what I mean.

Sidenote: Ever a rule-follower, I remember feeling quite nervous that I included a –gasp!– swear word in the last line of a school assignment.  But the play was filled with swear words as I recall, and so it fit Mary’s character.  Plus, my teacher for that class swore (…didn’t he?).  At any rate, nobody cared, and when my teacher read it aloud to the class, he actually put emphasis on the word, exactly as I thought it should be read: “…but damn that foghorn.”  If only my swear-phobic 16-year-old self could see my blogger-motherfucking self now.


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The Sound of my Addiction

“I had a Velcro wallet in a casino. That sound annoyed the hell out of me. Whenever I lost money, and I opened the wallet, it was like the sound of my addiction.”
-Mitch Hedberg

The following is my interpretation of this quote as it pertains to blogging:

I had a WordPress account on my computer.  The sound of fingers manic-ly typing on a keyboard annoyed the hell out of me.  Whenever I lost several hours of my day writing posts, reading others’ posts, and checking stats, and I logged into my account, it was like the sound of my addiction.

Recently, I was awarded a blogging award by the lovely Emily who writes The Waiting.  I love her blog.  I love seeing pictures of her baby.  She’d better be glad we don’t live closer or I may attempt a cuddle attack in a post-Kahlua cake stupor.  If you don’t know about her, and you refuse to click on the link I just provided for you, I’ll assume that you hate yourself and need some therapy.  In that case, process your feelings via your blog, dance it out to some Gaga, and come see me in the morning.

Emily gave me an award I had actually never heard of before:

And then I laughed, cuz there’s that word again.  Addiction.

I have many pet peeves concerning popular misconceptions of therapy or psychological disorders.  The biggest one is that when people use the word schizophrenic to refer to something that may be split or disjointed- this is false.  What you really mean is something closer to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which used to be known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD).
But I digress.  I apologize, cuz when I start talking about these misconceptions my eyes often turn the same color of the word addiction above.

Did you know that the word addiction in fact never appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV)?   I honestly don’t know where all the rhetoric around the word and its usage came about (perhaps the AA movement?  Anyone know?), but what I can tell you is that the proper diagnoses are basically defined thusly:

substance intoxication – recent ingestion, and showing symptoms of maladaptive behavioral or psychological changes

substance abuse – a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress

substance dependence – same symptoms from abuse, but you add symptoms of tolerance (a need for more and more of the substance to get the same high) and withdrawal (clinically significant distress or impairment due to cessation or reduction of using the substance) and a few other things like spending massive amounts of time obtaining the substance, etc.

I already diagnosed myself as being dependent on the substance called Draw Something, and I think it’s safe to say that I am dependent on blogging as well.  Add this to my list of neuroses.

Rules for this award are as follows:

1. Tell why I like to blog

2. Nominate ten others for the award

I like to blog because I eat, sleep, and poop introspection all day everyday.  My first journal entry was when I was 8 years old and got my ears pierced, and I’ve been journaling in some form on and off ever since.  For a while I even created audio journals with my friends when cassettes were cool and boomboxes were plentiful.

I decided to start a blog because I wanted to add another dimension to my personal, no-one-ever-read-this-or-I-will-chop-your-pinky-fingers-off diary.  Writing helps me to figure out who I am, what I like, what’s really important to me.  Plus, I realized that I was only writing in my diary when I felt mad or sad, and I wanted a record of happy, funny times as well.  I also went looking for community.  Feedback.  Conversation.  And I got it, boy howdy.

There’s also the part where I make my living by listening to people’s problems, and while I love doing that, I also like the chance to get my turn to speak.  So speak I shall.

Here’s a list of the blogs I enjoy reading the most (aside from The Waiting), and I’m probably dependent on them, considering I can’t get enough (also considering I get the shakes if I am away for too long):

Sweet Mother – She’s insightful, she’s eloquent, and she’s frickin funny.

Words for Worms – She loves books more than I love therapy!

Family Haikus – Hilarious stories about family life, plus poetry.

A Clown on Fire – Read at your own risk.

Never Contrary – I admire her skill of saying so much with so few words.

Speaker7 – She recrapped all of 50 Shades of Grey.  There’s nothing this woman can’t do.

Words Become Superfluous – Like word of the day for grown ups, plus Harry Potter references.

Raising My Rainbow – An awesome mom raising a gender-creative son.

Canadica – Where Canada and America form one hilarious blog.

Drawsome!

Lately I’ve been addicted to this magical game played via Facebook and smartbatphone called Draw Something.

And since I am currently studying for my licensing exams like a mad fiend– did you know that addiction is not actually a proper diagnosis?

The different substance use disorders can be categorized into either abuse or dependence.  To meet criteria for abuse, you gotta use a substance and have some bad shit happen in at least one of the following:

1) failure to get your ass to work, school, home and do what you’re supposed to do

2) taking dumbass risks because of the substance

3) substance-related legal problems

4) continued use despite crappy consequences with loved ones yelling at you to stop playing Draw Something because it’s now time to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom in the toilet this time, etc.

I actually loosely meet criteria for Draw Something dependence, which means I have bad shit happen in at least three of seven criteria.  Let’s take a look, shall we:

1) tolerance, which means I need more and more Draw Something games in order to feel the same level of bliss I felt at being able to portray John Lennon’s essence with some digital black ink and my pointer finger on a tiny glass screen.  Check.

2) withdrawal, meaning I get the shakes when I can’t check for new turns, or when none of my friends-with-actual-lives have drawn me something in the past 20 minutes.  Check. 

3) I sit down to play just one little turn of DS, and I look up seven turns later and realize it’s now dark out.  Check. 

4) I wanna cut down, I really do, but it’s just too hard.  I can quit any time.  Check.

5) I start researching amazing DS examples, and I look up famous photos to copy in order to create more amazing, mind-numbing finger art.  Check.

6) I ignore the cat and my boyman because DS is far more important, clearly.  Check.  

7) I keep playing even though it’s a problem that could possibly ruin my life and give me carpel tunnel.  Check.

For actual diagnostic criteria, just look in the nearest, friendly, neighborhood DSM IV.  What did we learn today?  All together now: that addiction is not an actual diagnosis.  And that I am crazy (also not an actual diagnosis).  Very good!

The following are the drawsome reasons why my social life is hanging by a thread:

As you can see, the word was TRASHCAN, but I decided to jazz it up with Oscar the Grouch.  Any excuse to draw a unibrow.

Still life.  I call it Ode to Coke.

I thought about drawing David Beckham’s sexy sixpack instead, but I figured my true-to-live depiction would be seizure-inducing, so to avoid a lawsuit, I went the safe route.  You’re welcome, but not really, cuz you missed out on one sexy seizure.

My interpretation of The Lorax.  I took some artistic liberties, mainly reversing color values and also neglecting arms and legs.  Who needs em.

I am pretty proud of some of my portraits.  This is GaGa stepping out in purple.

Classy.  Even if it looks like her eye sockets are empty, open, and soulless with streaks of mascara running down.  Probably from crying since she apparently lost her eyes in that freak gasoline fight accident.  Tragic.


Done from memory, although I almost forgot she had ears.  She looks soooooo stoned, you guys.

My favorite Disney character as a child.  Please note that I gave her both highlights and lowlights and added more cleavage.  Sorry about the lazy right eye (enlarged left eye?)

Do you get what I was going for here?  It’s our favorite chubby dead dictator, Kim Jong Ill, wearing his favorite button-up straightjacket.  For effect, I added the failed rocket launch that brought shame to their country.  Needless to say, this drawing was not guessed correctly.  :(

You try drawing this word!  It’s hard.  I deserve extra points for making his boxers pretty blue-and-purple plaid.  Don’t overlook his tears of shame, either.  The real story is in those tears.

This is my favorite drawing by far.  I drew this by instinct, realizing afterwards that I was emulating John’s drawsomely famous self-portrait.  Less is more, my friends.

Anyone else out there dependent on Draw Something for everything except calories?