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Alcohol, the shakes, lies, reality

Wednesday 12/13/23

Someone asked me yesterday if I had the shakes after I quit drinking. In one regard, I find that I look at my life in terms of before I stopped drinking and after I stopped drinking. It is perhaps worth re-noting that I was never drunk. But for many years, I consumed upwards of twenty, thirty units of alcohol a day. My behavior was not affected or influenced; but I was loading large amounts of things that were not good for me into my body and it took a toll.

One of the reasons--just one--for noting my alcohol-free streak in these pages is because I know how people think. They would like to find some way to get at me or discredit me. I leave no openings, because there are none. They'd like to say, "He put this thing up at some ungodly hour of the morning that humiliates me in front of everyone and I can say he was drunk, etc."

You can't. You can't say anything. You can't do anything. Presentation does matter, and it's clear here that this person is not governed by stimulants, emotion, anger.

But when Facebook sends me one of those reminders of what I was doing on a given day in the past, I think, "That was after you stopped drinking," as I did yesterday when it showed me a photograph of my trip to Walden Pond on that day in 2016.

In answer to this person's question, though: I did not have the shakes. If it helps anyone who sees this, whenever they do see it, the health benefits began immediately after I stopped drinking. By which I mean, my health started improving in such a way that I could tell by the next day. Within a week the benefits were obvious. I felt better and I was losing weight.

Sleep was difficult at first. I was simply up, very late, pretty much wide awake. That took some time to sort itself out, but that's what it did.

If you get a new job that requires you to be up at five in the morning and you're used to going to bed at twelve, you can't expect that you'll adjust right away, but in a few weeks, or however long the time period is, you will. This was really no different. I knew it would be like that, and I'd have to refrain from resorting to drinking.

I am a person of intense mental discipline who is highly competitive, and especially competitive with myself, and that served me well. If I do something once and do it well, I want to do it again. Keep it going. Do more.

So once I went a day without drinking, I wanted a streak. Then I had two days. Then I wanted three because that's better than two. And so forth. After just a few days I had no desire to drink again.

I also knew before I stopped drinking that the drinking had to stop or else the bigots of publishing would win by seeing me dead. Do I seem like someone who was going to let these bigots win? So there was also that, in terms of motivation.

I should add this: I was entirely alone. Virtually entirely unloved. Hated, envied, suppressed, blackballed. I hadn't so much as been on a date in two years. Now it's eight. People want people like them. I am like no one has ever been. And I become less and less like anyone has ever been as I continue to evolve. I lived in filth and poverty, as I do now. I knew each morning when I got up and created the greatest work in history that it wouldn't matter, that because of the bigots and the blackballing it'd be suppressed and no one would see it. I knew that what I created would have to be for some time after, when that wasn't the case, and I had wholly prevailed. But it's very hard to live and work twenty hours a day, every day, alone, despised, envied, feared, hated, for "after." I had no support. There was no one encouraging me. When I stopped drinking, people hated, feared, and envied me even more. People held it against me then, and they do so now.

For instance, if you're one of the talentless bigots of the publishing system, and you suck at writing, you're a terrible person, you hate yourself, you find it impossible to so much as even crack open a new Word document more than once a year to being that shitty story that you never believe in, you're overwhelmed with insecurity, self-loathing, doubt, anger, are you also someone who wants to read about the mega-genius having written a new short story, a new feature about one of the God knows how many things he's an expert in, ran thousands of stairs, done hundreds of push-ups, had some new things published, written three entries on a blog, is this strong, doesn't even drink, helped out some abused woman on the streets of Boston, all while you're hating him, trying to block his path, badmouthing him, trying to get others in on what you're doing, before eight in the morning on a Saturday while you were asleep? Are you going to celebrate that because it's amazing and deserves it? And because it's some version of that day every day of that man's life No, of course not. You're going to hate him. You are going to put that guy forward? Give him your award? You're going to let people see this story he wrote called "Big Bob and Little Bob" that is better than anything you've ever read? This work that towers over what you can do personally and the work you run by people who are like you who you like for that reason? The fuck you are. A Patrick Ryan of One Story. As one example. But this garbage from Lincoln Michel? Who is none of these things. Who is nothing. Nothing, that is, save one of them. Like them. They'll do it when they have no choice. Because people know. Which is one reason for this journal.

It's not just someone who is all of those above things. It can often be people who are any of them. We've covered it again and again: it all comes back to parallelism. I post something I've written on Facebook. Someone finds it the most mind-blowing writing they've ever seen. They can't conceive of how someone could do that. They think about that writing all day. The next day. They call it to mind often. Someone else has some laughably bad "short short" up on the TreeBark Review that a sixth grader could do.

Who do you think they're going to hit that like button for? Of course for that other person. That is the issue. That make-up of people. They are going to respond outwardly to what they recognize as on or below their level. Internally? Well, that's totally different. But if no one is saying anything, for these reasons I'm spelling out, you have a problem, don't you? Especially if you're trying to get somewhere. And especially if you can actually change this world with what you do and who you are.

Then add in that they see no one hitting the like button for that guy with the thing that created the most amazing writing they'd ever seen. For the same reasons, sometimes. For the hateful reasons other times. So, what? They're going to be the "brave" person who does something on their own? Ha. Fuck that. They're going to stand out there by themselves? Right. That's obviously not going to happen. People are so weak that they can't even do that, save in rare, rare cases.

There's this woman I know who reads everything I write that's made publically available. And that's a lot of reading, isn't it? When I share any of it on something like Facebook, she won't hit that like button. It's never happened. But, if I post a picture of me FaceTiming my niece, she'll hit it for that. Do you see? Because that's not a greatness thing. That's an ordinary person thing. It's something she could do. It makes her more comfortable hitting that like button. Is that pathetic? Yes, of course it's pathetic. But it's how people are. And in this case, I'm talking someone who isn't against me, and that's still how they act. Meanwhile, they're just taking. "I love this, I love reading it, can't read it fast enough." They'll keep that to themselves and people they're talking to privately. I'll be told that someone's sister said that such and such a book was the best book they ever read. They're not going to convey that to me, though. They aren't going to show any public support. Not right now.

Remember that day I was running stairs and I helped out the terrified woman with the blood on her hand? I shared that anecdote on Facebook. I didn't put myself front and center. But I was there, obviously, which is how the incident could even be described after the fact. And I did what I did. When I help you, too, it's not some token thing. I don't do the bare minimum. And I don't make you feel like you're putting me out at all. The situation with the heroin addict was similar in that regard. Again, that began when I was running the City Hall stairs. I spent like two hours with that woman helping her get checked into rehab.

But when I mentioned the more recent episode, you should have seen how people went out of their way--they practically contorted themselves--to make sure they didn't say a single nice thing about me. They couldn't even backdoor an "It was good of you to help her." One person did. It was so obvious that the others were like, "This person is so great, I must give him no credit, because he's so much more than I am, and what, I'm supposed to play that up?" It would have been funny, if it wasn't so depressing.

This is the problem I carry around. Do you know how many people see what I'm up to on Facebook or wherever, and then come here, as fast as their fingers will carry them to see what's what? Or who do the same thing not two seconds after one of these posts go up? But they either hate me, resent me, fear me, envy me, or are so intimidated by me and the level I am on that they would never openly show support, unless it was the thing to do, because millions of other people were.

They don't even have to be against me. I'll give you a recent example. A cousin of mine works for the FBI. Good guy. He phoned my mom the anniversary of my sister's death. Which was really nice of him. Truly. You know how he knew what day the anniversary was, though? This record. I had written about it. No big deal--he called. That's what matters. He's not expected to know that date. That's not what I'm saying. I likely wouldn't know it if I was him.

But he's talking to my mom, and he's telling her how amazing the sports posts are on this blog--he's a huge sports guy--and that there's so many people out there covering sports, but there is no one in the world who knows sports like Colin does. But this guy has never once hit the like button for anything of mine anywhere. Those same sports entries, for example, when I put them up on either my personal Facebook page or my author Facebook page. What he said to her, he wouldn't say to me.

Because it's me. See what I'm saying? This is the microcosm of everything right now. That, more than anything--even more than the bigots of publishing--is the issue.

The problem is greatness. It's that. People can't interact or support a person of greatness. Not on their own. Even when they like them. Because they're on a different level and that makes it harder for them.

Someone yesterday was saying to me that this blog should be covered in the news. It should be news itself. You have someone doing things that no one has ever done, daily, in these pages. You have a single person fighting a war against evil, mechanized forces, taking on people and institutions that no one ever has. In between creating the best art ever. You have a leader. You have the person who knows. Who connects.

At the same time, you have expectations, as this person correctly stated yesterday. He gave an example. He said if someone knows that Colin is at the lowest point a person can be, that there's been this influx of evil in addition to evil, and he's ready to die, and it's nothing anyone could survive, let alone fight through..."People then just expect you to get up and fight harder the next day. It's like a Greek god. Not a human. That's how everyone looks at you." That's what he said. Do you know one reason why I couldn't and can't even allow myself to feel like anyone else would in this situation? I mean, I feel it. But I can't let it have tangible manifestation. Anyone else would have died a long time ago. They would have killed themselves and it would have been understandable.

But let's say I was on drugs, I was obese, I was a physical wreck. I didn't get up, I had slit my wrists, been in and out of the hospital. Had my stomach pumped after someone found me passed out in the basement because I finally gave in and swallowed a bottle of pills.

Do you know what would happen? Hardly anyone would help me, and even then, it'd be limited. Hardly anyone would even be kind to me. Hardly anyone would even say anything. A few people would--a friend, my mother, my sister, the Admiral and the Captain. But essentially, I can't count on anyone to help me, or even show me a shred of kindness that they'd show anyone else, because of what I am.

When Ian MacDonald wrote his long essay about Nick Drake, he said that Drake would have been screwed if people thought he was strong. But he was a wreck. He couldn't even talk often. By which I mean, you'd be with him for three hours and he wouldn't--couldn't--say a word. He didn't provide much. He had this gift for music. And MacDonald says that it was easier to celebrate that gift, because people weren't threatened by this man, because he appeared so compromised. And if that wasn't the case, they wouldn't have been okay praising his music, because then it would have been like he was too good. Too great. His personal state made the gift in that one area more tolerable.

I don't have that.

Back to drinking. I think that more people have a drinking problem than ever before. At any time in human history. Why? Because people live lies, not lives. We are disconnected. Most people are alone. I don't mean they're not married. I don't mean they can't cite theoretical friends and that no one texts them.

I mean they're alone. Actually alone. They don't know themselves. They don't even have themselves as this person they know. Well, who can you know, then? They get together so that they won't be one version of alone. That's often the motivation. They lack for purpose. That's often why they have kids. Kids do not equal automatic purpose; often, they're a simulacrum as purpose, which no kid deserves. Which is one reason so many people are horrible parents.

People hide how they feel. Everything is for show in our age. We think in terms of how things look on social media. Even things we don't put on social media. We shape our thoughts to fit social media expectations. Or what we deem these expectations to be.

Yesterday on Twitter I saw someone say that once they realized that everything in life is a lie, they felt liberated. They meant the social constructs. Who gets what. Who is elected to this post. Who becomes president of Harvard. Who gets that genius grant. Those kinds of things. And yes, it is all a lie. It's all about other things. It's not truth or merit. It's not "deserve." I'm trying to be the exception. I'm trying to fucking change that.

When there's no onus to be anything great or good, and you can suck and get the stuff--get the rewards, the credit, the gig, the money--no one tries to be great or good. People don't go up when they can bank on things coming down to them. Do you understand? People don't have passions. Interests. They don't even have hobbies usually. They have the same boring fucking things, day in, day out. No one is going to seek anything. What they experience is merely what comes to them. And it's the same old shit that comes to everyone else. Netflix twaddle. Hurrah. Mental muscles are not used. They atrophy. Why do you think people finger their cats and talk about food so much? People become less and less curious until they're not curious about anything.

So yeah, this state, and the state of people in this age, is going to produce a lot of people with drinking problems. Most people have a drinking problem. You might not just know about it. Just as you might do your damnedest to keep yours from everyone, or call it whatever you call it to yourself.

This friend of mine yesterday was telling me about how his daughter and her friend--an Indian girl--missed a couple of days of school. They wouldn't go because they were being bullied. This is the girl I've written before, of course. So my friend and his wife went out to dinner with the parents of the other girl, to see if they could find a solution. My friend told me that the other dad didn't even bring up his kid. Instead, he was ordering tequila. It was a night out for him, in his late forties. Guy gets drunk, goes home, keeps drinking, and his kid--my friend's daughter's friend--finds him passed out in the foyer the next morning in his underwear. This kid who he never even brought up the night before.

Then he starts contacting my friend, rehashing the "great" evening. My friend has been my friend for twenty-five years. I can say, without reservation, what my friend would have thought of this guy. Wouldn't have been a fan. Let's just put it that way. Probably didn't help that for the first half hour of the dinner, this guy went on about his "side hustle." My friend tries to get out of anything like this again, and he says to the guy, who is looking to line up another good time evening, that there are some great trails to hike where they live, and it's great for the kids, etc. A kind of "You can come along on the hike, guy," type of deal. You know, "This will be good for our girls." So what does the guy say? He points out that there's a winery near one of the trails.

That guy is a lot of people. And he'd present it a totally different way on Facebook, as the doting, concerned dad, blah blah blah. Look into just about anyone--or know them for who they are--and you'll see a web of lies.

It's amazing because we all live in reality. That's the substrate. The background. The foreground. Middle ground. We're inside of its space. And yet within that reality, almost everyone is living a lie. Is trying to keep the truth hidden.

In publishing, for instance, do you think a Lincoln Michel, is like, "I know, with utter certainty, that I'm an amazing writer."

Of course he doesn't think that, as brainless and narcissistic as these people usually are. He hopes that he can trick people. The residents of his subculture. That he won't be found out, or, because he has been found out because it's always so obvious how bad these people are at writing if anyone actually looks at any of it, called out. Like this. He wants the lie to masquerade for reality. Do you think he's going to make an honest effort to be this amazing writer? No. How could he? You need to be born with talent. And then, because there is nothing harder in life to do than to create writing at the level of art, you have to work at it every second of your life. A person can't even begin to imagine how much goes into truly great writing. How much is happening at once on all of these levels. You're connecting with that level of this person's mind, and that level of that other person's mind. At the same fucking time. No sentence is about just one thing for just one part of the mind. And the heart. The soul. But it may very well have to look like it's about one thing to a given person. Not a sentence in a great work of art. I know. I live it. I am it.

You can't fucking dabble. You can't just work at it ten hours a day. It has to be your entire being. You can't look at or do anything without it being filtered through that being as that thing. It's too hard. There's just too much. There is an infinite number of variables. An endless amount of everything that can go into the work. And you have to know the answers to the mysteries on the other side of the veil. And you have to be able to situate people so they can experience those answers. You have to know how people truly are as if you personally designed them--no, even better.

How are you going to fucking do that? By getting an MFA and attending circle jerk sessions with people like you in Brooklyn? Come on. That's the lie. That's not reality.

To return to the shakes: It wouldn't have been surprising for someone who drank as much as I drank for as long as I drank to have had them, but I guess what I would say is that in all of that time, I never felt like I needed a drink. Like I had to have one. Maybe that's the difference. Plus, I was always physically active. And body chemistry, what have you. But like many things, the shakes do pass.


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