I am not the kind of person to mix the fruit and the yoghurt together in those little cups of desert that have the plain yoghurt on one layer, and the fruit on another. I will happily scrape off every scrap of the white, until I get to the fruit underneath. I am not someone who is willing to live a life in the middle, without experiencing the extremes. It is all or nothing, or more often all and nothing where I feel most comfortable.
A life lived in the middle, at a lukewarm temperature, in a state which is neither this nor that, but instead a comforting and middling mélange is not for me. I do not think I am even capable of such an existence, and even if I was, I would never be interested in something so middle of the road. No. How can you appreciate the light if you have never been truly in the darkness? How can a home ever be deliciously comforting, unless you know what it is to sleep outside with the wild creatures snuffling around your ears and sniffing at you to see if you are alive, or dead and scavengeable? I was not built for the middle way, for center of the road. The middle never existed in my mind. I would watch all those middle dwellers, mixing their fruit and yoghurt together and wonder how they could bear it. Never to get to the pure heart of the matter, the unadulterated experience, the concentrated not-watered-down taste of experience is no predicament for me and my wild ways.
I suspect I should be rid of this fascination for all and nothing by now, but it has become a way of life. Ever since I was a child I suspected this might be my last week, last hour, last moment on this planet, and so needed to grab every single second of experience and wring the juice out from it. I let the gross poetry of living be my daily eulogy. If it was all going to end, due to my actions, or those of others, I was not going to mix things up into a mild soup that was sustenance of an immediately forgettable kind. I have lived far longer than I expected to. I can’t say I don’t now guard my days almost jealously, because I do. I still suspect that each morning might be my last. After all when I have a crazed ex still desperate to find me, ICE on my back, the Hague convention knocking at my door, and a rickety but long-standing commitment to sobriety, who knows when the carousel will stop turning for me, and I will finally be let off the up and down painted pony ride?
All those possibilities just outside my window, and to sit here with nothing happening at all feels like a sneeze trapped within my cranium. I want to dig my fingers inside my head and free it. I want to let that monster out the cage and play with it a while. Yes, what I need to make the ride go round is some monster time. I need to indulge that life force which only deals in extremes. Sometimes all it needs is to pick up a guitar, or play Radio Ethiopia as loud as my little speaker can go. Sometimes it can be satiated with hashish. Sometimes it can’t be quieted at all, and I have to wait out the storm until calmer waters show up. Sometimes I have to go out to the Bay and watch those ships come in and go back out again, walking until I tire that beast out. Sometimes I throw on a jacket and a beanie and go walk down the Tenderloin making myself revel in the filth and the gutter and the possibility of every way I could possibly dream of to throw myself into that dark void of disaster, a willing sacrifice. Sometimes I have to sit here and listen to the Beast scream in the chasm of my mind, demanding to be set free for a spell in hell. My monster has not been tamed, but merely controlled. It is never satiated, and kicks against the doors and rattles the chains. It pleads and begs and wheedles and cajoles. It makes promises it always breaks. It makes threats that it only has a partial possibility of ever bringing into the light of day where the Beast does not belong.
There are varying degrees of monster time. For some of my more wayward brothers and sisters it kicks in after the third drink when their conscience gets put down for the deep yet temporary sleep by an ethanol haze. For some it is only when that bag is almost empty and the more more more is far far far away that their monster rears its shaggy head. heir monster is born out of fear of suffering, a lack of grit and fortitude, and the inability to realize that they are in way over their head. Their kick becomes everyone else’s problem. Sometimes Monster Time happens when that door clicks open at the end of a working day and a man stalks in ready to make me and my babies pay for his dissatisfaction at life and himself and everything and everyone around him. Sometimes monsters turn in on themselves. Sometimes they take it all out on doors and walls and windows. Sometimes they make innocents pay for their kicks and savage aptitude for chaos. Sometimes monsters make good music. Sometimes they write good copy. Sometimes they forge good words and weld them to the page. Some monsters are controlled and used. Some run wild and feral. Mine thinks it is in charge, until I force it to realize that I have other things I need to do. My monster does not get to bite and claw it’s way to freedom. My monster has to remain tame and in a cage.
This caged beast inside chews at its nails and recites Rimbaud. It picks up guitars and plucks out a few notes. It longs for peace. I can’t put the monster down. I can’t let it go, and it won’t die. So I feed it scraps under the table, and full spectrum hashish when I am able. I let it sniff at possibilities. I let it write out its songs and tell the tales from the under ground where all the monsters live. I pity it, to be frank. Poor monster with me as a mistress. I am Margarita and it would be the master, except our roles have swapped and I rule its days and ways. A battle of wills takes place every single day, with the monster nibbling at the hand that feeds it. I will not give in. I am the dictator of my own future. I am the authoritarian master of my wayward soul. I own the beast within me, and we have come to if not an entente, at least a begrudging respect for each other. I cannot give way.
I wonder if one day I let the beast out to play, give the monster free rein, just what would happen? I suspect I would never get it in the cage again. I would have to throw up my hands and give in to the dark side, that unadulterated bitter fruit of bad knowledge without anything to tame or modify it. No sullying of the feral beast within. No collar and chain. No leash and rules of engagement, only pure experience of the more unsurvivable kind.
I put my hand through the bars of the cage. Let the monster sniff me. I am table scraps. I am poor pickings. I am an unsatisfactory meal. He yawns, bored and barely satisfied, and I nervously shut the door and pull open the curtains, to yet another unyielding day.