I drive around sometimes and I wonder where The Place is, and if I’m in that place. Reckon that place is different for everyone. Kerwin said to me some time ago, when we were considering moving to Los Angeles, that I seem to want a great big slot machine of a city . . . a place that is huge and full of millions of people, and so about as many things are likely to happen to me. Maybe that’s true. I mean, when I really think about it, it is true. Which is not to say I need constant novelty in my life. I just really want to find this thing, even if I don’t know what the thing is. I have a feeling I’ll know it when I do find it. And I keep thinking, you know, while driving around this place, that if I can’t find the thing in a petri dish that I live in, maybe I could find it in a gigantic toxic ocean of bad strangeness. There are many more combinations of things in big weird places. But maybe also that makes it harder to narrow it down. (And maybe—maybe the thing doesn’t exist at all!)
At night I’ll leave the house and walk around in the dark and hope that some sort of narrative forms around me, though it hardly ever does. It used to happen to me. Why doesn’t it happen much anymore? Have I stopped putting out a signal? I feel like I’m more willing than ever to be absorbed into something unknown, even if it never spits me back out.
Years ago I was in Providence, Rhode Island to see a few rock shows. There had been a blizzard the night before I got there, and the whole place was a ninth-circle-of-hell arctic wasteland. It was just after Christmas and there were stringed lights everywhere, but almost everyone was inside on account of it being below freezing. I left a show around midnight and had to walk back to my room on Hope Street . . . and as I stepped over a mile-long solid sheet of black ice, a car pulled up next to me and the girls inside rolled their windows down, and they asked me to come along with them. I didn’t go with them. Why didn’t I go with them? I should have gone with them. They seemed insane almost and I was feeling rotten as hell about something. Back then it seemed like a bad combination, but as I sit here now, years later, I think that maybe the circumstances couldn’t have been better for that sort of terrible madness.
I know that if that happened to me one night in Oakland—if the same car pulled up and those same crazy girls asked me to get in, I most definitely would. I’d jump right in that dang car, even if it was the very last thing I ever did. I’d let them kill me, if it really came down to it. I don’t have a whole lot going on, and there are certainly more boring ways to die. I’ll bet just about everyone you ever see is going to die in a boring way. Well: no sir! Not for me!
But is this the Place? It’s the place for now, and was the place for me for a long while, some time ago now . . . I left it and went someplace else—a place that couldn’t be less of the place if it tried. What a godawful place that was. I am happy to be rid of it. I almost never think about it except for times like now, because it is late and I am tired as hell, and have less control over my mind than I usually do, which is saying a lot. . . .
Meanwhile, during the day: I have this sort of energy in me that is maybe terrifying when viewed from a certain angle, and with the right kind of eyes. I guess I could chalk it up to my Eternal Ailment, which I have written about many times in the past. That’s one of the symptoms of it, you know: endless amounts of chaotic energy. It takes a lot to hone the dang thing, I’ll tell you that . . . I have to focus it like a laser beam or else something like this happens:
It’s true! I want to say it took me years and years to know what to do with the stuff. I still don’t fully understand it, and sometimes it creeps up on me and I have to stand up and go home. It’s not truly scary or anything like that, not really . . . which is why they add the “hypo-” to the front of “mania” and call it “elation” and “euphoria,” and on and on. It’s not so bad. It annoys me when it appears and I don’t want it to. I have this compulsion then to talk a lot and my mind races at supersonic speeds. Maybe if I were smarter I could actually do something with this mild superpower, but instead I just go on endlessly about things I vaguely understand. Hah!
Maybe it is this thing, all this strange energy, and this screaming desire for something new that makes me always wonder if what I’m doing is the best thing I could possibly be doing. It makes me feel hesitant about cities and people and jobs, and so on. What am I supposed to be doing with all of this godawful time? I’m killing it, that’s for sure . . . because what the hell else can you do when you really get down to it? As my friend Jackson put it the other day: he said, you know, even when things are good, he’s still just killing time. I’m out there pissing in the wind every damn day, man. Just like getting comfortable with death, or accepting pain and suffering and sadness, and on and on, maybe it’s better if I just admit to myself that I’ve wasted my entire life and then get the hell on with it—even if that means continuing to waste my life until my life is over. That prospect doesn’t scare me. I think it’s more than fine. There’s a sort of comfort in that even. You say to yourself, you say: “Hey baby, we’re all just skeletons waiting to happen”—and then you hope to God nobody heard you. And then you go outside and you stare at the sun until it burns right through you, and you go about your day, go about pissing in the wind. I care a lot and it’s killing me. I’m ready, I think, to join the religion of ‘Who Cares’ . . . but maybe I ain’t either! I’ll let the brain-frying rays of the sun decide the outcome of this shambling pile of flesh that I am!!
I told Kerwin recently that I need to create a cartoonish parody of myself and move into it like you would move into a new house. And then I get to live inside that thing, and leave this other thing behind, and hopefully all the things from that thing will die inside of it, away from me! Kerwin laughed and he said: “Didn’t you already do that?” And I thought, hell, I sure did. What’s a broken down piece of trash like myself supposed to do when it has already exhausted its whole deck of trick cards? Are my options to abandon this final thing thing that I have made—or die?
I’ve got that underwater feeling. I’ve got that between-dimensions feeling. I don’t know that I’ve told anyone. And I was thinking tonight under the glow of many Christmas lights, and while listening to the little fan in the corner of my room—I was thinking about that line from ‘Moby-Dick’:
For as the swift monster drags you deeper and deeper into the frantic shoal, you bid adieu to circumspect life and only exist in a delirious throb.
You said it, baby. You sure as heck said the words that I remembered.
Now for god’s sake can someone show me how to forget about all the rest of it??