Friday, July 2, 2010

Sunset Brews…

Albert Vanderburgh was a homeless man in Honolulu who wrote a blog for years in the University of Hawaii public libraries.  It was populated by an interesting cast of methamphetamine addicted “boys” who where his friends. Him being much their senior and almost like their mentor.  They called meth Baku in their local Hawaiian language and their lives were spent trying to obtain it.  Every day would be a new tale of their exploits from the previous evening.   Albert had a nine to five job and a nice apartment and gave it all up to live on the streets of Hawaii tired of the rat race.  Homeless in paradise, He was one of the more avant garde men I have ever read about and got to know.  Mr. Barbieux’s exclamations that people don’t choose to be homeless was certainly proved wrong by Mr. Vanderburgh. 

Every evening, Albert would walk down to the beach on Waikiki and drink what he called his sunset brews, three 40 ounces of beer, as the sun set over the ocean.  It always sounded so romantic to me being an alcoholic.  My own attempts at sunset brews didn’t prove so romantic tonight, though.

I don’t do sports. I never have unlike my brother. I felt as awkward as a nerd in a jock’s locker room when a young black man walked over to me this evening, handed me a basketball, and told me to take a shot.  He was just being nice and friendly. He saw me sitting on the bench by the courts all alone watching the boys play.   All the other black boys laughed as I missed the hoop  and chain net terribly.  There were a few “white boys can’t shoot hoops” jokes being made and lots of jovial laughs at my expense, but it was good hearted.  I had been to the convenience store just down the street and bought two 40oz Steel Reserves to drink while I sat in the park and watched the young men play ball in the court there.  These were my sunset brews – my own feeble attempt at trying to capture Albert’s grandeur of his similar ritual.  The sun did set, but it just wasn’t quite the same or captured the same ambiance that Albert wrote about in his tales.  I need a beautiful beach to sit upon I realized. Something this little southern town on the piedmont plateau doesn’t offer.

Charlie arrived earlier in the evening with my medications. He watched carefully to make sure I took them under dad’s strict orders.  I was watching Bones and he joined me for the rest of the episode. I now have him and dad both hooked on that show.  Charlie usually only watches HGTV.

Charlie brought me lots of goodies tonight. Charlie is like my mother and hates for me to do without.  Dad is oblivious to it. He feels dad is overbearing and I have to live a Spartan life because of it. I told him what he brings me are little joys and he just grinned and grinned.  Charlie brought a grilled chicken plate from KFC, my six diet Cokes in cans, and two 20oz diet Cokes in bottles to drink with my supper.  He also brought a big cup of sweet tea from KFC that sent me into caffeine overload.  I got jittery and had to pour most of it out.   All that sugar was just too much as well.

I shed a few tears as Charlie left.  I’ve just felt so terribly inescapably lonely lately.  I think I am in some deep depression and just haven’t figured it out yet.  The incredible urge to self medicate myself to feel better is so terribly strong that I about can’t control it.  I don’t know what I am going to do.  I at least take heart that things so far aren’t irreparable. I haven’t done anything overly stupid to screw up my life like the countless DUIs I’ve had in the past.  I favor walking these days. I haven’t, so far, damaged any relationships with my family.

I feel I  have no control whatsoever of my mental healthcare, though.  Dad is in complete control of it all.  He has to sit in every visit with my psychiatrist.  If I ask him to sit in the lobby he will be angry with me for days and I just can’t take all that.  I also hate my doctor.  There is no way in hell he can diagnose what is wrong with me in fifteen minutes charging $100 dollars.  He is a pill pusher and dad loves this being a pharmacist and very medication centric.  I take eleven pills every night for my mental illnesses and I don’t even know their names. Most of these pills were prescribed when dad would tell my doctor what symptoms he thought I was having. The doctor would write out a prescription and dad would say thank you.  These pills are forced upon me every night with no choice in the matter.  I am so out of touch with my healthcare. I have been under the strong suspicion that one of these pills is causing my anxiety but I am met with accusations and blank stares when I reveal this. 

I’ve had little control over my life for years now and it is about time I do something about it.  A job. Getting a new doctor.  Being in control of my medications.  Buying my own groceries. It’s all got to start somewhere.  I’ve been marginalized for years and I am tired of it.  My self esteem is at one of it’s lowest ebbs in years and has been for a very long time.  It is time I take some pride again.  Be a man.  Take control of my life.  If I don’t do something, I will be sitting in this house three years from now with no change in my life with little progress emotionally, spiritually or personally. 


Hap Joy Free said...

Do you consider yourself a victim?

sure sounds that way. Keep drinking, keep blaming, keep taking back your will.

It should all work out just the way you want.

Anonymous said...

you are one talented writer!!! wow! Take care of yourself. Terri

PipeTobacco said...


I think your wishes for some autonomy in life are very typical and very well founded. Every person, has that desire for freedom of choice in their efforts and purpose.

If you go back and read some of your posts, I think you will see that you have felt both extremes in regard to your autonomy in the past... sometimes you have wanted 100% freedom to do each and everything in life... and sometimes you have wanted 100% to be monitored, guided, and controlled in your day-to-day. Both extremes are very understandable.

Yet, in terms of consistency it is not possible to go back and forth between 100% freedom and being 100% controlled in life. I think, even though I may sound like a broken record... that the best way for you to have consistency in terms of how much freedom vs help you have day to day is to try for a moderate approach.

What I mean is to think about which things would be most beneficial and meaningful for you to have control over (perhaps some money each week, perhaps when you take medications, or whatever your list would be of the things that are meaningful for you). Also think about what things would be most meaningful for you to allow your family to control (perhaps home bills or auto insurance, or whatever those things are for you).

If you seek to gain some control over the things that are meaningful to you, and yet also relinquish control to your family for those things you feel you want their help with.... that is a moderate approach and is very likely the way you will find the greatest consistency and the greatest contentment.

Please do not think I am trying to tell you what to do... I think you should do exactly what you want. I am just offering one perspective that I think you may find valuable and helpful.


justLacey said...

I think pipe is right. You can't have it both ways. Having complete control over your life with mental illness is hard. You could have more control over your life though. My first thought on that is what is the first thing you did with the money Miss Florene gave you? You could have purchased the part for your camera but you didn't. You acted just as your father fears you will. That is not he;pull for your situation. You could easily make pocket money every week by washing cars or mowing a couple of lawns, but what is the point if you are going to drink and piss it all away? You are a grown man, think about it. You can have some of what you desire if you just take control of yourself.

This IS The Fun Part! said...

JustLacey and Pipe might just be right. And I certainly agree with the fact that you showed total lack of responsibility by taking money from Mrs. Florene - who can ill afford to support your bad habits! What's your best friend gonna say when he finds out you asked his mom to pay you to help her out a little . . . when she loves you like you were her own?!?

What damage is this going to do to the friendship between Charlie and your dad? When dad gets home and sees that Charlie has not kept you out of trouble, I can just imagine that their relationship will never be the same again.

It's not ALL just about you and what you think is your answer. And you know damned good and well that the answer is NOT finding a way to procure more alcohol.

I hope Maggie is not being neglected during this binge of yours. She can't take care of herself.

I'm angry - but I do still love ya,

Anonymous said...

Terri, you're an ass. The man is in the middle of a crisis and you say, "Wow, you're a talented writer!" ??? Good grief.

becomingkate said...

Sounds a little overwhelming, especially in and around taking "control" of one's life. this is BIG with me too (I'm sooo co-dependent) but I have found that control is an illusion.
I can stay in control of the little things but in the bigger picture, everything I do or don't do is directly related to my kids or my husband.