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Staring at a joyless sunset - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today... — LiveJournal
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
Staring at a joyless sunset
The white room, with its single framed print of a standard sunset, started to fill up at the last minute, just before the door was closing. Slump-shouldered strangers took the first available seat, their eyes following their own feet. None of us were there by choice. Of the twenty-nine people in the room, I was the only one there that didn’t have a court mandate to attend. There was only one person present who hadn’t been arrested for drunk driving, who doesn't drink liquor, or who wasn't even formally arrested at all—me.

It was my third meeting last night; each one proving that there is an increment of time known to man that is slower than Stairmaster-time. In front of the class was a large chart on a slanted board detailing each category of drugs. Written in the pre-Nancy Reagan era of drug education, it had the common slang names for marijuana (Mary Jane, Acapulco Gold, reefer), heroin (Big H, Harry, honey), and Quaaludes (downers, Dreamland, Qs). It also had helpful information on huffing gasoline, as well as the dangers of inhaling ether. I read it carefully as I was there to learn, as well as show the court I was willing to learn.

Our teacher is a spindly man with a shock of gray hair, a stuttering gate to his speech, and a gift for slowing the earth’s orbit. His facts are wrong, sometimes so absurd that I want to wave my hand in the air, as an over-achieving student is prone to do, and engage him in a debate. I don’t. I don’t want to be any more responsible for boring the surly throng than he is.

Manuel, muscular sarcasm wrapped in tribal tattoos and a tank top that reads In Rock We Trust, sat next to me last night fidgeting the entire two hours. He’s the most vocal in the class--by that I mean he’s the only one who actually speaks a single word besides our elderly professor. Manuel is prone to blurt out a rebuttal or a snickered comment to our teacher, throwing the room into momentary disorder. One girl, whose hair is so tightly bunned up that she looks like a synchronized swimmer in search of her nose plugs, laughs at every one of Manuel’s jokes, then quickly looks to her lap.

Each night has been the same; a dull-witted lecture followed by a half hour of a video that makes me long for the cinema of health class. Last night, the eighty-pound Asian girl with a permanent pout was flapping her legs apart and together in rapid butterfly motions, causing the heavy-set boy sitting next to her to stir in his chair. Three minutes into the video, she rolled her eyes, proclaiming loudly that we’d already seen this one.

“I must’ve forgotten.” The teacher stumbled up from his chair, looking at the remote control for the VCR as if he were the monkey looking at the monolith, and stopped the tape just as the star of the video was opining that alcohol impairs the ability to drive. Luckily, he had back up, a thirty-year old tape of a priest lecturing an audience on the impact of alcohol in the family unit.

I absolutely confess to doing something incredibly cavalier, stupid, illegal. It put my most important asset at risk—-my career. I’m not in the class by accident. I’m there at the suggestion of my attorney, a chit he can cash in with the DA. It’s a smart move, to be sure, and one that will go a long way in court. After kicking two major drug habits in my life, ones that nearly killed me, I now find myself with several smaller ones: two milligrams of Klonopin a night, a few puffs of pot, less than a half a pack of cigarettes a day, a middle-of-the-night cookie, and twenty milligrams of Lipitor. Have I learned anything from the weekly class I attend?

No. Honestly, I don’t consider the rituals I maintain as addictions. I call them maintenance.
21 comments or Leave a comment
cricketshay From: cricketshay Date: March 17th, 2005 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
We all do what we can to get by. I should know, cause I too have my own maintenance rituals. I hope everything goes well. *hugs*
(Deleted comment)
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 17th, 2005 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
CCA (chocolate chips anonymous). I believe the meetings are daily, but you meet some great people there.
privatesector From: privatesector Date: March 17th, 2005 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
After all, 'maintenance' has the same root as 'maintain,' errrr right?
ladycakes From: ladycakes Date: March 17th, 2005 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lord, without pot I would have killed someone by now.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 17th, 2005 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know! Can you imagine?
ladycakes From: ladycakes Date: March 17th, 2005 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Honey, it would be ugly.
fabulist From: fabulist Date: March 17th, 2005 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Maintenance" still implies addiction.

"Familiar" is better, and your rituals are familiar and comfortable.
Addiction comes when missing one, even one time, causes panic.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 17th, 2005 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
You've seen me miss a cookie. You've seen the panic in my eyes. What do you think?
zombietruckstop From: zombietruckstop Date: March 17th, 2005 05:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Please, PLEASE write a book!

God, I love you!
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 17th, 2005 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I want to write a book, but you have to star as me in the bigscreen version. You mind shaving your head?
quuf From: quuf Date: March 17th, 2005 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
One girl, whose hair is so tightly bunned up that she looks like a synchronized swimmer in search of her nose plugs, laughs at every one of Manuel’s jokes, then quickly looks to her lap.

Oh my God.

More to the point, you're in my thoughts.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 17th, 2005 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
As you are in mine.
duffymoon From: duffymoon Date: March 17th, 2005 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Way to describe it in such a way that we can all enjoy your misery. Sorry you're going through this, but thanks for journaling it so well. Fake it till you make it. One day at a time. And any other trite cross stitch sampler proverb you need.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 17th, 2005 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's my own damned fault, but thank you for a really nifty throw pillow idea!
ubermunkey From: ubermunkey Date: March 18th, 2005 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)
own damn fault, is it?
or is it a fucked up system that places a rediculous amount of emphasis on not doing, but getting caught! I mean really, let save the mania for some serious crimes like having more children than you can love, nurture, and or support. Let save this kind of over blown reaction, for trusted authority figures who abuse their power and position.

or something like that.

hope it all works out in the least painful way possible.

munkey love...
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 18th, 2005 03:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
or something like that.

It's a lot like that.

Thanks, Connor.
tedwords From: tedwords Date: March 25th, 2005 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Manuel sounds like my kind of guy.

There's a fine line between addiction and maintenance, isn't there? Finding the line drawn in the sand (that line that separates actually destroying your quality of life versus making the life one lives endurable) can be difficult to find...and I sometimes swear that the line has faded, with time.

Now, go find that girl her nose plugs! ;)

(Hey, I see that you decided to putself yourself to the test. You thinking of adding more pics or funny one liners any time soon? Limericks would work best, I think.)
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 25th, 2005 03:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Manuel definitely has an appeal.

As for the line in the sand, the wind has kicked up and it just seems to be blowing in my face.

After your experience with the test, I decided to jump in. Punishment seems a familiar friend. We'll see what happens, but so far, I've gained two new LJ friends, and one oddity.
tedwords From: tedwords Date: March 25th, 2005 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I was reading...you're clearly doing much better than me. (I didn't gain one single friend...grrrr...)

I am so seething with jealousy...

Just kidding. Actually, the intent was to learn something about my writing, and determine how long I could stand the barrage. Three weeks was actually pretty good, I think. And besides, you ARE a better writer than I am (I'm one of those slobbering for you to get that book out, too.)

I was thinking about what I wrote to you as I was driving to work today, and I think I'd rewrite it (if I had to do it all over again), to a single line, "There's a soft line drawn in the sand, seperating that which makes life tolerable from that which can tear your life apart." Or something like that!

tedwords From: tedwords Date: March 25th, 2005 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have to say, I value certain friends that I've discovered on LJ for a variety of different reasons. Each person that I've really connected with adds something different to my life.

Kind of like a basket of multi-coloured Easter eggs, except y'all don't spoil and get all gross after the season has passed.

Thanks for all the kind words, compassion, and encouragement, my friend. And thanks for sharing with me your unique voice.
soul_spider From: soul_spider Date: March 25th, 2005 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

I hope everything is going okay, Terry.
21 comments or Leave a comment