Friday, July 9, 2004

L'humeur merdante

L'humeur merdante

Yes, friends, that's French for the shitty mood... wherein we find ourselves enmired today. I woke up with weird and unpleasant dreams, my tummy hurts, I argued with the Grandmother, I'm tired, I'm horny, and I generally feel like driving my car at high speed into a tall grandstand full of small children and seniors. My cold lingers, my depression lurks, and I just don't like my life enough. I feel like crying, yelling, hitting things, and yet at the same time I feel like curling up in a ball and laying perfectly still until my body atrophies and a layer of silent dust forms over my life.

I'd really like to entertain you right now, but I haven't got it in me. Instead, I'll just tell you what's going on in my head. It's not very organized, and it's only funny in an absurdist way, but at least it's honest (or as honest as I can make it, anyway).


So in this dream, I was out with Daddy and Grandmother in the car late at night, hunting for a Long's Drugs that was still open. I don't remember why, but we needed something of a medical nature for one of them. For some reason the only one open was at Eastmont Mall, perhaps the scariest mall in America and definitely in one of the scariest neighborhoods of Oakland. In the dream, Eastmont didn't have the acres and acres of unused parking-lot that it possesses in real life, and the nearest parking space I could find was in a residential area across the street.

So we're walking around in this drugstore, but I get separated from my family... and all of a sudden I'm in the liquor aisle. I pluck a bottle of peach brandy off the shelf, a big brown-glass bottle with one of those big black security caps on it (the most memorable part of the dream... when I close my eyes I can still see it, feel it in my hand), and I head for the front of the store.

The scene cuts, as scenes sometimes do in my dreams, to the next day; I wake up in an institutional-type bed with a blue blanket over me. I know what has happened, but I don't actually remember any of it... I awake with the mere knowledge (but not the physical memory) that I abandoned Grandmother and Daddy in Eastmont Mall at night, that I drank that whole bottle of peach brandy all at once and blacked out, that I drove home drunk, changed into the drag outfit that I wore at the Living Sober Conference, went out to the bars and drank some more, then in the morning checked in to a rehab center (which was located next to the Oakland Police Officers' Association Building on Fifth Street beside the freeway... I just now remembered that detail).

So there I am in rehab, trying to figure out why I drank a bottle of peach brandy. I never even liked peach brandy. I'm in this narrow yellowy room with two twin beds, laminated plywood wardrobes and bed-stands, and a rather unattractive roommate who resembled this guy I met on PlanetOut Personals a few years ago who looked very much like an albino rat who's been drinking in the sun.

The only reason I could come up with for the drinking binge was that I wanted to start my program over from scratch... I felt like I hadn't been working my program right these last nine years, so I had to begin again from step zero; this is what I told my roommate and my rehab counselor, who was played by Hal Linden (circa 1978, the Barney Miller model).

During the rest of the day (in which I was not even remotely hung-over), I stayed in bed (because I had no clothes on) and chatted about recovery with the ratlike roommate and the other people who wandered through the room... I don't remember any of those conversations, just a feeling of discomfort being stuck naked in a bed with all these strangers coming and going.

Eventually my sister came by and I got dressed in some sweats she'd brought me; we talked a while and I decided I wanted to go home. She took me home, where I discovered that my Grandmother, incensed by being abandoned in Eastmont Mall at night, had burned all of my drag. All I had left was the tux and white corset in the closet at the rehab center. I was so upset by this that I decided to leave Grandmother altogether, forever, immediately. I had nowhere to go, of course, so I just returned to the rehab center on foot.

On my way there, I figured I had to have another drink before I went back (because you can't show up sober to rehab, what will they think?), so I stopped and begged one off of a bum on the way; he gave me a styrofoam cup filled one-third of the way with liquor of some sort (maybe it was peach brandy... it looked like it, anyway). I carried this styrofoam cup into the cafeteria of the rehab and filled it the rest of the way with coffee from an urn. I didn't get a chance to drink it, Hal Linden was suddenly beside me and showing me a gay-porn calendar produced by the rehab center as a fundraiser, featuring models who'd lived in the center over the last year... all of whom were kind of trashy-looking and hung like donkeys. Then I woke up.

I didn't just shoot up in bed, wide awake, though. Instead I opened my eyes just enough to end the dream and had to struggle to remember the dream itself... it had felt important, so I kept repeating the details to myself to prevent myself from going back to sleep and forgetting the lesson I'd learned. I dozed several times, and had a rather pleasant dream in which I was somebody's sex slave, but I kept interrupting the dream and trying to wake up so that I'd not forget the lesson.

I don't remember the lesson, of course. There was something about revitalizing my program without going to the extreme of having a slip and starting over from the beginning... but I already feel that way, so what's the use of my dreams telling me about it? Maybe it was a warning that if I don't do something to breathe life into my program, I will have a slip and will have to start over again? Or maybe I just wished I was hung like a donkey and would be put in a porn calendar by Hal Linden?


Whatever it was, I was feeling yucky when I woke up, groggy and heavy and grouchy. I had a hard time coaxing myself out of the bed, and once out I had a hard time coaxing myself into the shower and then into a set of clothes. It was half-past eleven by the time I was dressed and coffee'd up sufficiently to actually do anything useful, and then I spent another hour doing those useful things (rinsing out the ice-chest from the 4th of July and setting it out in the sun, watering Grandmother's tomato plants while I was out there, rinsing the rotting egg off a skillet I used several days ago and forgot about but which was stinking up the kitchen, taking out the garbage, eating breakfast, bringing in the mail and papers, etc).

Then Grandmother started to nag me about watering the front lawn. Actually, she wasn't "nagging" me per se... she just asked if I would please water the lawn every day so it would become green again, since she can't do it herself anymore. I said I'd try, but that I doubted I'd remember to do it every day. She pointed out that it wouldn't be hard, that I could just set the sprinkler on one part of the lawn in the morning and turn it off when I left for the office. I told her it would be nearly impossible because I am not at my best in the morning and can barely manage to accomplish things I want to do, much less things I don't care about. Then we got into our usual argument: I don't give a rat's ass about the yard, and she shouldn't give a rat's ass either because it doesn't fucking well matter; and then she pouts and says it matters to her and what will the neighbors think and it upsets her that I don't care.

What in the above exchange gave me the right to be as pissed off as I was when I finally left the house? I mean, I was literally seething with anger, like a pressure-cooker that hasn't been screwed on tight enough, as I drove to the office. I don't know what it is about lawns that piss me off so.

Actually, I hate all plant life... I like them fine to look at, I even enjoy them in parks and gardens, and nothing beats plants for pumping oxygen into the air; but caring for them in any way, watering or trimming or potting them, even shopping for them, sets off the most amazing barrage of hatred and resentment in my heart. Watering a lawn makes me even angrier than washing a sink-full of dishes... and I have no idea why either activity makes me so unbelievably angry.

And so when Grandmother asks me why won't I do this one little favor for her and water the lawn every day, I don't have an answer. All I can say is that watering the lawn (especially when it's sunny out) makes me horribly angry, and I don't want to be horribly angry, so I will naturally avoid watering the lawn... but I can't say why I get so angry, so she thinks I'm just being a lazy willful bastard (which makes me even angrier, of course, since I require that everyone in the world think the very best of me without question).


Perhaps the reason I'm feeling so resentful and angry about Grandmother and the house is because my body and soul want something (SEX) and my mind won't let them have it. I am unhappy with my life as I currently live it because I'm not getting everything I want.

I've made choices and set priorities that exclude the possibility of certain kinds of relationships (i.e., live-in lover, or even a sleepover boyfriend), and I have no talent for the kinds of relationships I know I can get within my current lifestyle (casual or anonymous sex, etc.), so I tell myself that I can't have any sexual relationships at all.

On the other hand, how much of the previous paragraph is a total lie? Am I telling myself I can't have the relationship I want because I live with Grandmother simply so that I won't have to look for that relationship... and risk not getting it? I sometimes think I am; and sometimes I think I am not. It all depends on how I feel on a given day.


But lately, I have noticed more and more resentment about doing what other people want to do instead of what I want to do. Although I had a good time at my aunt Terry's on the Fourth, I would rather have gone to the third day of the Living Sober Conference, and then to Barry's party in Pinole... but I couldn't because then neither Daddy nor Grandmother could have gone to the family gathering as they wished, nor would I have been able to return the Small Children to their mother. I quite often would prefer to do things other than what I have to do for Grandmother or Daddy or some other family member.

So, what are my choices? I can remove myself from the role of escort/chauffeur to my Grandmother, move into my own place and live my own life with whomever I choose to invite in (provided that such persons choose to come... no guarantee they will); in which case Grandmother will be alone in the house, unable to go anywhere at all or do very many things... and so I will still have to take her to the places she has to go, and come over to do all the things I do now, but will have to drive over there and pay for my rent and my food.

Another choice is to start looking at my relationship with Grandmother as a paid job rather than as a codependent symbiosis. I have to consider how much I do in exchange for room and board, how many hours of work pays for how many toiletries and utilities, to think of these tasks as duties instead of as favors. Perhaps if I was able to think of tasks as professional work, I could remove the personal element and thereby remove the resentment. I mean, I don't resent my job for making me come in on days I have things I'd rather do (though that doesn't really happen, I always get time off when I want it), I don't resent my boss for making me do things I hate (like filing, though I do resent the files themselves), I don't resent having to work for the money I love spending (well, I do, but not as much as I resent having to tiptoe around Grandmother's stupid little prejudices in exchange for a place to live).

Well, there are two possibilities, one of action, one of perception. I won't do either of them, of course. Too logical, too sane, too simple and yet with too much effort involved. It's always so much easier to sit and stew in one's resentments. Especially when you're in a pissy little mood, as I am in today.

Just as it's easier to sit around being horny and dissatisfied with life than it is to do all the work that would have to go into getting laid... I mean, I want to have sex, but not in this body. When I fantasize about sex, I'm always in my other body, the one without a belly, or breasts, or braidable body-hair. And while nothing could be simpler than to diet, exercise, and get a quick trim, there is a lot of labor involved. And so I just masturbate and eat Oreos (not at the same time, but I might try it now I've thought of it) instead of making myself presentable enough to snag a cute man and feel comfortable revealing my body to him.


So having analyzed what's wrong with me, come up with a number of solutions, and discarded them all, now what do I do? Maybe I'll just go home and water the lawn. Maybe while I'm at that, I can use the time to pray to God for guidance and inspiration... I could totally use some. And maybe I'll try to remember that much of this dissatisfaction is chemical, and that I will be treating it soon (I'm going to set aside money out of the next paycheck for some nice Asian homeopathy), and not to depend too much on my shitty mood when I am making decisions about my life.

Well, for now I'll just start with watering the stupid lawn.

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