cigarette smoke floating in dark room

Rolling Bones

I need a rolling tray. I have no vinyl albums to press into service, I am too stuck up nowadays to use my supper tray to roll up dem bones on. I am left balancing my constructions on a hardback copy of Dylan’s collected rolling stone interviews. It is unsatisfactory. Weed is the only thing keeping me on the wagon. It is boring, but better than nothing. I buy tiny amounts of new strains hoping to find something with a bit more kick to it. I keep hoping weed will turn into something else, like some junkie alchemist, looking for the secret formula to turn weed to smack, an alchemical reaction, turning green to gold. It never happens, but that doesn’t mean I will stop seeking.

I wasn’t always so fussy. There were times when I would eat my food with the same spoon I used to cook my dope up in. I wasn’t above using discarded tootsie roll wrappers to fold pills into, crushing them with the back of a spoon. Breaking down pills used to be one of my favorite pastimes. There is a certain satisfaction to be had, delaying gratification, taking the pills they make into indestructible little objects of frustration, and reducing them to dust. I would take a nail file to the outer coating of the morphine, take off that sticky green top layer that exists only to stop the entire dose dissolving in a person’s stomach at once, and actually giving them some relief immediately. More importantly , giving ME relief immediately.

Days where I would pick up cigarette butts up off the floor to reroll into papers. Days when I hadn’t changed my clothes in months, and socks had to be thrown away. Who has the ability to wash clothes? Not people like me. I am not saying I am dirty, far from it. I love being clean. I appreciate being clean. I have gone to extreme lengths for a shower, and dumped cold water over my naked shivering body in the middle of winter in a freezing campground, heading outside into the rain and sleep and wind and snow, to try and rinse the suds out of my hair. My hair used to be to-the-waist-long. It got shorter and shorter. I would shave it off entirely if I thought I could get away with it. I first cut it off in that little blue house in the Oregon pine trees. Billy had gone and left me alone, taking a trip to move his shit around various people who would end up stealing it all anyway. I was in one of my opiate pill and booze bottle fugs – real deep in with the oxy and morphine, drinking from the second I woke up until the moment I passed out, sliding off my chair in what I hoped was one graceful motion, but instead was more a listing to the left and a sad crumpling: a grave miscalculation of how much my body could take as it aged. I used to be able to kick it with the boys, match ’em shot for shot, line for line, pill for pill. I got old. I got old. Everything hurts. I want a pint of tequila and some beautiful woman with delicate features to dance around my living room with.

Don’t get me wrong, I am blissfully happy on my ugly seventies style paisley orange sheets, guitar finally unloaded and put on a stand by my hands, so I can grab it whenever I want to play it, instead of having to pull it out from a case. I still ‘put it to bed’ at night, zipping her up in her soft gig bag, whispering that bad men who smash guitars will never go near her sexy curves and dark polished wood.

Billy called. He is partying. He is a pain in the ass. He is out of control. He is going to jail. Court in a week or so on various charges that he is way too old to be running up. I told him, Billy, when I first met you, you were pretending to be someone else and lately you haven’t been yourself. And all those moments in between where you were by my side, lagging behind me, holding me at arms length, pulling me in, holding me to impossible standards, demanding your rights to deny me, crucify me, use me up, push me under, are now all fallen by the wayside on this grand going down. 9 months to birth one heck of a drug and drink problem. Going down, I saw you tumble, on the way down, darling, I told him, but you threw me out, so why are you weeping to me? He had no answers. He just cried and begged ‘help me’. There is no help I can offer. There is no comfort I can give. Not now.

I tell him I care, I tell him I used to love him for the person he was: for the pen and ink drawings, and the music and the poetry and the fact that he could sit with me, and listen quietly as I wrote, letting me bounce ideas off him. He was the best sounding wall a girl could wish for. Quiet when I missed my mark, and vocal when the arrows hit. Sometimes he would look at me and say, “Girl. I am jealous. I teach you to play guitar and now you write these things, these songs.” That is the problem with men. They are never happy when a woman creates without them. They want in on everything. In on bodies, in on choices, in on our art and in on our time and assistance, our love and support. In the end it is never worth it. In the end a woman who shines brighter than a man cannot have him in her life. They get mean. They shrivel. They wilt. They don’t like it, and cannot cope with their position unless it is always above us. My little photo of the Lilith relief makes me smile. Now there was a riot grrrl who insisted on being on top, and headed off into exile when the inadequate male bristled. No one was going to dominate Lilith. No one is going to dominate me.

This new apartment has made me bold. I have a room of my own. I have my bed and my guitar. I have no one insisting on being in my life. I have not so much been allowed my freedom, as torn it out of the grips of misfortune, and planted a flag here on ____ Street.

Now I am watching from the window at the crows and the clowns thinking about Washington. We pulled into a parking lot, I was wearing his grandma’s quilt, I wrapped it sound my shoulders. Pulling into the parking lot in Aberdeen, stopping for a few months, going blue with cold for lack of green. That patchwork quilt was like a shroud. I pulled it around me when I got too high on tainted weed, someone mixed some research chemical trippy speedy stuff into it and sent me spinning. I thought my heart was going to give up. Hauling kids into the Walmart bathroom to use the toilet, trying to keep the jugs filled with water. Trying to get enough food. Trying, trying trying to survive, until some security guard almost smashed the door down. Coming up with something: Billy’s eternal and useless search for a plan became something past laughable, and headed out into the realms of pathetique.

Plans could not be made on a Friday, because that was almost the weekend. Saturday and Sunday were written off as ‘nothing can be done on weekends’, Monday was a day of ‘recovery from the weekend’. That left Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday became his day to treat himself to a day off after all that hard work being utterly useless. I got a job cleaning motel rooms, came back and slammed the money on the table. His reply was some vague plan to deal in research chems, which thankfully never came to fruition. I am so tired of his bullshit. “Billy you treat me like a mushroom” I told him, “You keep me in the dark and feed me on shit.” He laughed, but it is true. He couldn’t be decent if my life depended on it. He didn’t want to care for me, and me for him. He wanted me to care for him, and look after myself.

I don’t enjoy physical relationships with men. I am not unknown to find some man or other attractive because of their personality, but the sex leaves me cold. I try not to show it. I put my…best foot….forward so to speak. I am affectionate and have been known to be sweet. A certain kind of guy finds me attractive. They are generally a little on the bisexual side. All that said, I knew Billy for a long time, and cared about him greatly, despite his appalling behavior. Despite the fact that our relationship was built on drugs and spikes, bottles and guitar strings, we were close. Now he just irritates me with no redeeming features. Booze has made him dull and dumb. There is nothing left for it. He cries to me begging to be allowed to die, but without the mental capacity to ask for euthanasia, despite his end stage liver disease and brain tumor. “Help me die, Detroit,” he begs. I tell him I can’t do that and not to ask me.

I need some fun. I need to cut loose. I need some pretty woman to put her hand on my leg and tell me I am cute. I need not to be needed. I need to be wanted. Except I can’t. This is the part of middle age I do not enjoy. When I was younger I would have headed off to a lesbian bar, and flirted shamelessly, got mildly drunk and pulled some pretty girl home with me. The virus, the fact there is not one dyke bar left in this city, the fact I am old and lost my confidence, all of it conspires to make me less me. To make me sad.

San Francisco is quiet tonight. Too quiet. I don’t like it.


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