If I have to imagine an individual teaching modern writing, somehow I always see them handing out exercises. "Write about something that just happened to you." "Write about what you did yesterday" "Write about your birthday".
Well I can do that last one. And the second last one too. I had wanted to write on my birthday, so that my ego, bloated like a well-filled tick on a rainy day many decades hence, can recline and read his very own thoughts from the past. What grander stroke to the ego is there than that kind of time travel. One of only two real kinds of time travel. Placing yourself in the mind of yourself in the past, effectively becoming oneself at an earlier stage.
The only other time travel I know of is quite slow. It happens to everyone, every moment. It is travelling at the rate of one second per second. Yes, you can see how life would be in 100 years from now, but the catch is that you have to wait one hundred years.
That 'obvious-but-true' time travel theory fits perfectly my definition of the afterlife. You get there and everything is explained, but you realise you knew everything already. You just hadn't stopped and reflected upon it. It is the only kind of total-revelation afterlife scenario I can comprehend. Finding out everything, but realising that you already knew it.
Maybe that doesn't make sense. Maybe I should just do the exercise as written. My day. Of course I never ended up writing yesterday. I barely entered my flat for more than ten minutes - that's an interesting fact that in a year may remind me of more than I expect it to.
I woke at S's. Fourth day in a row. And, despite the sad hopes I always harbour around my birthday, I awoke as frustrated as ever. My ice princess was still made of ice. The joke had not been revealed, the magician was not going to spin his props around for the crowd and explain the simple mechanisms that reveal the unfathomable as a few simple movements. I was spurned again, as ever.
But that aside, we awoke. I dribbled home to shower and get ready. S had bought two hundred packets the evening before so that I would have one for my birthday awakening. Sadly, this is one of the few pleasures I have heard myself admit to in the last decade. And is it really a pleasure? Morning shots without a surrounding habit have downsides. Grogginess at work, plus I never sleep for more than ten minutes at a time the night before, knowing I can soon wake and use. A broken night's sleep, and ruined awakenings for a week afterwards - the mind dreams you back into thinking you have another shot every morning for days afterwards.
So perhaps when S ended up using the second hundred the night before my birthday she did me a favour. "I can't go to work stoned" was her excuse that neither of us believed. While it is true she shouldn't go to work stoned, no junkie would turn down a shot just so they can work. They may put it off eight hours, I have done that before, but passing up a shot - never.
A few months before, on the eve of S's birthday, I had bought 3 X $100 packets, knowing that we would use two the night before. I could pretend I had just the two, we would use them, then we would still have a breakfast shot. This birthday I tried to pretend that maybe that's what was going on here. Maybe S had a third one tucked away. But I doubted this.
So I went to work un-stoned on my birthday. Boss and the boy loans manager were up in Townsville greasing palms and networking - a task I only enjoyed if the networks were silicon and copper wire. The human kind perplexed me. Those at work did not mention my birthday except for Anne, who stated "Isn't your birthday soon". And who did not press when I lamely told her I could not remember. People tire of my perpetual BS I know.
The day dragged. I took very little of my very little dose of metro, the $200 pack from the previous night still satisfying the majority of my opiate receptors. And the thought of more gear to come calmed me some. I cleared out of my empty work right on 4:30. Throughout that unsupervised workday I had scratched out an idea for our new website at work - putting an SQL update behind every hyperlink, at the top of each page. As the site is only accessible with login and password, we could track each users movement through the site. And thus see what products were popular and which were not.
After years of half-successfully messing around with perl scripts and cgi-bins, I wondered why I had not gone down the SQL path from the start. It captures heaps of information easily and lends itself to flexible reporting. Happy as I can only be when I get some software magic right, I had nicely timed it - I was able to leave just after seeing my first test of clicking through the site recorded for posterity in some sql tables.
(I ask myself again if writing is a task or an art. Keats seemed to think it was a heaven sent inspiration. Nonetheless, he dedicated most of each day into seeking the Muse's touch, so that's a kind of work I would say)
To my parents for the birthday dinner. My father had laboured to make nice foods - I was surprised by a pasta bake straight out of a Leggos bottle. Very nice food, but I am such a snob that I associated this meal with the kind of cooking S experimented with these days - only worth cooking if there was as little work as possible in it. No cutting up, and especially - NO MESS! S had become obsessive about mess in her kitchen. At times she would go completely without dinner, even if I offered to cook 90% of the meal at mine then carry it over to hers - she would reject this if she needed to steam some veges at hers to accompany it. "I don't want the plates piling up" she would say. I swear she did not see the link between cooking and staying alive. Perhaps this could be the explanation for her ever-thin figure. Cigarettes and gear were the old excuses I thought explained it, but I have so many friends who smoke and use and are still tubby. Truthfully told, I think it is the nervous nature of some users that keeps them thin. OCD weight loss programs.
So I ate my pasta bake, then had some rice custard. Mum and dad argued but only softly. Perhaps tempering it a little out of respect for my birthday. Dad's hearing aid was due for a tuning later in the week - he kept asking if certain sounds were overwhelming - "Those cicadas" "The whoosh of the cars!" he would say. Sound is a hard thing to rank. "Are those cicadas too loud?" is a hard question to answer.
I ended up ranking sounds for him. "The cicadas are much louder than the passing traffic dad, but mum and I can hear conversation over them". Dad did not seem incredibly satisfied with this answer, but were are creatures of senses, and when one of those senses is malfunctioning, it can be hard to put full focus into normal routines. I understand his distraction.
I was given a casserole dish and a pack of 9 Ferrero Rochers for my birthday. A lovely card with bright yellow bananas held by a chimp. S said "is that all you got " later and I told her of dad's bad back that had put a stop to serious present buying. I wanted no more really, a car had been given a year or two ago and that seemed to satisfy all gifts for the rest of my years in my book. S tricked me with the old "Hey can you look under that pillow" trick, whilst I was distracted with mixing up the second shot for that evening. Iain Banks "Steep Approach to Garbadale", hardback. Another IB had come to my attention the week before, Transition I think, but I was keen to own them all so was appreciative of this gift...
Second shot did I say? Yes, I had itchy feet at my parents, a feeling I hate that gear aggravates. I can barely bear a moment spent in quiet contemplation when I know I could be out scoring. I am become such a machine for the harvesting and utilising of gear. Only a hope of rescue carries me forward.
S had failed. Failed me. Failed to score on my birthday. Usual man Sly was off the show as he often wont to be, and could not make sense. I ended up getting very irate at the idea of having to do the scoring on my birthday. "One day of the year. Why cannot it be done for me one day of the year?" I muttered. S got angry - pull over drop me off etc, but failed to follow her bluff through. Child games played by two children on their way to buy adult drugs.
We saw Nads first, at Oxley, then a big police blitz descended upon the petrol station we scored and used at. It turned out they were looking for a shirtless man who must have robbed or broken into someone nearby, but try telling yoursel fthat when there's a pick in your arm and a sirened police car drives straight twords you. Even before we got home we were heading out to Garden City to see Rich for the first time in a month or two. The cops had totally busted our buzz, as kids in the sixties probably said. With R I dropped the 'it's my birthday' line to expand the packet. He laughed. "This phone's been compromised, I'll give you a new number soon" he said.
"What are you, a CIA plant" I asked. A special relationship exists between those junkies who knew each other before they started using, at the time the using-initiating damage was being done. That's what R and I have, I feel. Our using, and a memory of a horrible place we both spent years at being warped. Plus certain horrible people from there.
Enough of that. Scored twice. My head was thick. I headed home to S's. Not home but where I oft sleep. Went to her bed reading Banks while she stayed up watching So You Think You Can Dance, a horrible show in my opinion. Somewhere in the day I texted Rachel, an ex who shares my birthday and love of gear. I listened to a lot of Wolf Parade. Ordered a Wolf Parade T-Shirt online from Canada. Found out that Spencer Krug has another side project (how many?) called Handsome Furs. Listening to them right now. His voice reaches me, his words are crafted not written.
So that's my writing for my 39th birthday. Next time I write like this I will be forty years old. Will I be married? In a different work? Dare I say it - clean? Guess what I wish for when cutting the birthday cake (dad made me a choc-orange cake with two-tone icing. He goes to so much effort trying to pull me back. I cry really). Some egotistical typo had me put 29th birthday just before. Those days are gone. As are yesterday's shots and all that remains is this moment.
What is this weakness we are all made from. Some design flaw? Some brittleness introduced into the spirit in the very first stages of the manufacturing process? I cannot bear it. What purpose it serves but self-doubt I can but wonder at.