A note on amphetamines and cancer
Long periods of constant consciousness; messy webs of strung-together mornings and strung-out ideas become forgotten conclusions lying fully clothed on a sheet-less mattress; and reaching ugly dopamine plateaus on overly sunny afternoons in aimless traffic, getting nowhere, burning tobacco, cursing endless lanes of elderly shoppers en route to Peer 1 Imports; damning the life-sucking parade of tank-sized SUV’s, their respective small-penised pilots sitting calm and confident, encased in what seems like several feet of military grade armor , I’m squirming and squinting, searching for the lost horizon, a pretty tree, any sign that life is not hellishly futile… but then giving up my search when I notice “Dora The Explorer” on a TV in the back of a nearby minivan. But frustratingly I can’t hear it, so I focus on the radio. Get the equalizer absolutely perfect. Recede into the back of the psyche and try to prevent full-on panic.
These long periods of consciousness are, time and time again, worth their respective weight in gold -- often to the point of confusion and despair -- and can abruptly coalesce in the faint smell of my own under-washed underarms seeping outward from skin to thermal shirt to collared flannel, leaving the stale scent of Old Spice in the armpits of my brown leather jacket, the pockets of which are full of crumpled notes to a future version of myself who never shows up looking ready to work, always dark circles under his bloodshot eyes, shoes untied and torn, unable to see his once-clear Goal through now dirty glass frames and sweaty corneas. Here, thoughts race in circles and curly-Q’s, and I’m running out of clothing; and as the sun appears, I’m rashly cutting pants far too short and sleeves too crooked, vainly longing for the momentary perfection of a single unattainable trouser-length or shirt-style, head lost amidst the focus of an indestructible amphetamine high, and only after much rest, do I come to the realization that these long, dream-like experiences are just as unreal as the intense fourteen hours of an acid trip, and just as irrational as the most panicked moment of spasm in any of the late-night sugar rushes I endure. And yet amphetamines, harsh as they may be, always seem more useful, if not much more so, than their fellow outlawed substances, especially in distant retrospect, after the brain’s necessary chemicals have returned to comfortable homeostasis, and clear thought can once again emerge from the fog; to me these sugary government-issued pills are made all the more beautiful by their fleeting nature. It is also worth noting the strange manner by which these medications are often obtained; from hopeless suburban heroin addicts, who will have nothing to do with the anxiety-crammed high of speed, to innocent high school freshman, who live completely ignorant of the true nature of the pills they are prescribed.
Dense as rock or light as air, you can’t climb a chemical mountain without, at some point, falling, fast or slow, hard or soft, in black-and-white or Imax stereo surround-sound, into a catatonic depression of indeterminate length, dreamless sleep and wakeless life. The roof of the mouth peels. You’ve lost the ability to get passively drunk. You’ve really got to want it, got to focus, but usually I find myself quite capable both.
“Going to sleep” is no longer a decision or an activity one can decide to undertake, (nor does it, for that matter, seem like a requirement for further existence at all…) but sleeping becomes an inevitably inconvenient end to a semi-drunken-drive of ugly metaphors, lost in a nameless part of Northern New Jersey... out of gas, out of pills, out of people and out of pants. Cut short and bleached blonde, the taste of death finally becomes too much for the tongue and associated nostrils. Slip, skid, and be swallowed by the light of 1000 factories that, although you may fight the idea, are just as naturally existing on this earth as the Grand Canyon, or the Delaware River. And relative to the length of the human technological age, this sweeping skyline of smoke-producing factories took just as long to form. An empty sprawl of industrial and mechanical fields stretches from swamp to overpass and under train track laden bridges, falling flush against brown bodies of city-side water, a beautiful sight for both interstate traffic and train-riders alike.
Amphetamines are stupid in their blunt tactlessness – they’re skin deep. And like everything else in our bodies, they inevitably turn cancerous in self-destruction. In the human body it is only a matter of arbitrary time before one single cell rashly decides it can no longer wait the proper amount of time before procreating itself. Similarly, your average male office-building accountant, suffering from your average amount of office building sexual frustration, general loneliness and despair, will eventually snap and resort to paying for intercourse from a hired prostitute. A single pre-cancerous cell in his body behaves no differently: It prematurely reproduces, often unprovoked, incessantly and without much prior thought, darkening its once banal and vanilla future, heading towards an almost certainly bad end. And when this inconsiderate cell so rudely pops prior to its scheduled time, screaming “I cannot take this monotony any longer! ”, others like it are sure to join in the anarchical frenzy almost at once, life turning against itself, aging with too much haste causing an eventual destruction of the larger being, who for the moment, is ignorant of all this. The irony exists in this first cell’s implied intentions: it wants only to create more of its life-giving self. Contrary to basic logic this is not the innocent action it may seem. Often the worst harm is done with the best intentions.
And the beauty here is that it always starts with one. It is one drag of a cigarette that finally gives a man lung cancer. Strangely, this gives me hope -- to know one out of millions can start a revolution against the greater power and bring it down by living too much and too fast; contagious zealously traveling fast in the prairie wind. Consider Albert Hoffman discovering LSD, deep in his first trip, squirting out drops from the first vile of acid ever produced onto the innocent tongues of his unknowing friends, and single-handedly starting a revolution - a group of subjects become hell-bent on living to the fullest, living for the sake of living, being in the moment and for the moment, not waiting around for a distant “happy” future or some monetary goal of fiscal security. In this instance, the idealism ends after the larger Being, in this case “The Man” himself, has been destroyed from within. No, it never did happen, but this is the dream of the accidental cancer that brought down the government.
You remember with a sudden shudder of fear that there is Nowhere to run. Don’t give in to the nonsensical delusion to which society lazily provides with it’s inner-most efforts, to some future concept of “rest”, a vague idea which somehow encapsulates both mental progress and physical healing – an imaginary mental “leftover” of sorts; “retirement”, haunting the subconscious and flooding the tired eyes of the fifty-year 9 to 5 worker. You can hide in a movie, hide in an album, a song, a poem…but only for a moment. Again and again your tie-dye shirt will be torn from your dirty-hippy torso and cordially exchanged for a starched and pressed collared shirt, most-likely across a clean counter-top freshly shined with Windex, but under closer inspection is subtly stained with several decades worth of brown coffee-mug rings. All of the known solar system will be represented here, but you will not notice. Here, at the eggshell counter, you will also receive your first Charlie Brown necktie and a fresh tube of Chap Stick made from some sort of beeswax or rare animal excrement. Congratulations, You have begun to die.