After my downer of a post 3 weeks ago, I have been slowly putting my shit together, regaining some stamina for my project, talking more openly to DH, and most importantly appreciating better my accomplishments as a mom.
A friend without children recently told me: ‘you are losing your head about achieving stuff, making something out of your life but you do realize you have achieved a lot right? You have a big family and a functional one too. You will always time for the rest.’
I don’t know if it is her comment or street Christmas lights or the fact that I am still digesting my thanksgiving dinner but I woke up in a disgustingly sappy mood, my heart full of love for my 3 ‘creatures’, as my friend Levon calls them. So this ‘awesomely crazy and cute stuff they say’ post is for you monkeys. Even if I often complain about you, I am thankful for you. I am. Enjoy this post because tomorrow I will be back to my bitchy self.
G: ‘So there is this house and there is a lion in there and a wolf knocks on the door and the lion is so scared he locks the door …brrrr’
Me thinking: I see that family membership to the Bronx zoo has been a good investment.
G:‘L is a silly baby but he is too cute …sigh.’
Me thinking: Awww.
P: ‘I want to be a big person when I grow up but a big person like Daddy not a big little person like Mommy.’
Me thinking: Fair enough.
(When peeing first in the morning) ‘I have to hold strong because I have a big zizi (‘willy’), so so big.’
Me thinking: boys will be boys 🙂
L: (when prompted to say ‘Thanks’) ‘Ti tyou’
Me thinking: Awww.
P: ‘I hate all boys at my school…except for one.’
Me: ‘Who is THAT boy?’
P: ‘It’s G (her twin brother) because he is really so sweet and so, so cute’.
Me saying: ‘Awww’ and thinking:’Remember this next time you try to strangle him’.
P: ‘Why are you sad Mama? There are no reasons for you to be sad because you have me, papa, G and L. You cannot be sad. We are all here.’
Me thinking: Nobel Prize.
To finish here’s a snippet from my conversation with P yesterday. I was talking with DH about old times and P asked:
‘Was I in your belly then?
‘Where was I then”
‘Well …you did not exist then’.
‘What?????’ shell-shocked I could have a life without her in it 🙂
‘Let’s just say you were a wish’.
Her eyes lit up and she screamed: ‘Yes I was a pink wish!!! But then you prefer grey…would have it been better if you had a grey wish instead of a pink wish?’
I was not sure what to say. I finally answered: ‘No, because you, my pink wish, are here. I have millions of wishes including the grey one but they are not here and it is ok. I am very happy about it.’
And then P flashed a kick ass and proud smile. Melt.
Have a great week end!!!
Photos by Helene McGuire, LN Photographie
I pondered about whether or not to share this post. I initially wrote this as an email to DH but before hitting the ‘send’ button I thought ‘every single mom probably goes through this. It is all fucked up sometimes and I wish I had the courage to lay bare these moments and surges with other women as they happen and not 1 day after I (somewhat) processed the feelings and tried to make sense of them’. That is when instead of the email being sent to DH it went straight to redlipstickmama.com
Hope your day is going well and that the jet lag is not too bad.
I need to share with you that I am having a burnout as an entrepreneur, a mom and a wife.
I am getting paranoid/paralyzed about failing, not doing enough or at least not well enough. I feel like everything, everyone around me is putting pressure on me. Which probably is inaccurate and I (and maybe also our parents) am the only one who put these pressures on me. On my fucking own.
What annoys me is that I am numb today. Like I don’t care anymore of what people think, like I don’t care anymore about raising to my own expectations. It is so not me. But I am tired.
I know I have to take it easy and take positive and constructive time for me without guilt but to be honest I don’t know how to do this.
Today I just want to crawl into bed and sleep (although I haven’t been able to for weeks now). I have a meeting but I cancelled it ; I don’t want to the garage* because I think it will make me cry and I just want to hide. I just want to be a slob, a lazy person without being terrified that I might be depressed. Can anyone do this?
There is nothing you can do about it; I just need to say it.
This makes me look like a cry baby but today I just don’t give a shit.
*my co-working space
NB for my readers: as I am sending this, I saw on the Instagram feed a 20 year-old friend this: ‘We are born to be real, not to be perfect’. How fitting. So wise.
No lipstick mama
I have dropped some breadcrumbs, post after post, about how crazy my extended family is and how their madness may very likely be connected to the fact that they are Lao. I am aware that it is a racist statement but still…I let you be the judge after you finish reading this post. Also everything written here is actually 100% true and if people do recognize themselves, well it is exactly how you sound. I still love you. Most times 🙂
On the topic of your physical appearance
‘Her husband is so handsome; you should see him grand ma. She is meh but he is GORGEOUS.’ Because it is deemed important to assess whom outta of a couple got the better end of the bargain when it comes to the beauty department. And by the way, you are not supposed to get offended because it is the TRUTH.
So yeah, they tell it like it is. The other day, my dad was staring at a friend of mine who very likely leans towards the democratic vote ( he is Canadian after all). After some intense staring, he had an epiphany and proudly stated: ‘Ha!!! I know who you look like! George W Bush!!!’
Fits of embarrassing laughter ensued; and my friend’s wife tried to save the day: ‘maybe a mix of Bush and Clinton ?’ to no avail… My dad cooly replied serious like a stone: ‘No, just Bush. In fact, he looks like Bush father and son, both of them.’
Most embarrassing/WTF moment since my dad did the duck dance with my mother in law at my wedding.
But all this is nothing compared to Lao women’s obsession with other women’s weight. Typically, things start like below.
‘Wow. You have gained so much weight I did not recognize you.’
The conversation usually then unfolds in 2 possible ways:
Option 1: you are trying to explain.
– ‘I did have 3 kids’.
– ‘So did I but look at me, still the same face and body. ‘
To which your evil bitchy self is dying to reply: ‘Yes you are lucky. Getting knocked up at 18 by the local suburbian boy does indeed make wonder in terms of getting your pre pregnancy weight back. When you are in your late 30s (like me), have travelled and tasted amazing world cuisine…well yeah pounds are a bitch to drop. It’s true but who can resist a NY steak right?’
But in reality you are shamefully replying: ‘Yes, you are SO lucky. Hmm, where’s the bar?’ And are thinking: ‘See you in 20 years. Bitch.’
Option 2: you stand on your ground.
‘No, I actually lost 4 pounds.’
To which they stop talking and start pinching and pulling (key word here) your double chin while grinning up to their ears.
You can NEVER win. Seriously.
On the topic of sibling rivalry
‘Ha, I see…that’s the ugly one. Where is the pretty one?’. Always indeed useful to quickly identify who is whom in a pack of mutts.
‘She is a good student but you should check out her sister’s test scores. Much better.’ Just in case your sister did not already hate your guts.
‘He is the grand father’s favorite grand child; he does not like the others much. I, for myself, struggle with my son’s temperament; my younger daughter is the one I prefer’.
All these being part of a fairly typical casual chat with friends as THE kids themselves are trying to eat (and fail to digest) their Pho Bo.
It is so bad that when a few months ago I read in the New York Times and Le Monde different articles addressing the modern times taboo of the ‘favorite’ child I was at loss. What taboo?
On the topic of gender equality and general marital advice
‘Of course she was going to leave him. It’s because she has a higher degree; that’s not how it works. To make it work, men must have higher education than their wives.’ No.It is not taken from a Mad Men script. I swear.
Another time, my grand ma told me over the phone that she had been hearing rumors about my temper and that I was being too tough on my husband (???) and that I should really be more lenient and understanding (god knows about what). I wondered if my brother gets the same type of call. Hmmm. Very unlikely if I believe the wedding good wishes DH and I got at our very own Soukhouane ceremony. The soukhouane is a ceremony that calls upon your spirits/energy so that they are tied back to you and you can be in your prime in different key moments of your life (birth, move, accidents, marriage, death etc.). It is beautiful and emotional. The ceremony is then followed by your family and friends wishing you well tying threads of cotton around your wrists. As grannies (‘meh tao’) ,wished me good health and financial prosperity they wished/implored DH to be faithful to me and never take a ‘second wife’ also more commonly called in western cultures ‘mistress’ or ‘lover’. The poor guy had no benefit of the doubt.
It gets worse.
My very own first cousin whom I was meeting for the first time asked : ‘Are you saying that of his own free will your husband will not come with me and check out escort girls?
‘What about you ask him?’
Cousin actually asked DH using me as the translator. Not awkward at all. DH at that point was scared of saying anything really and wondered what kind of sick games we were playing and what kind of weapons I was hiding in my purse.
Cousin concluded:‘yeah, it is not possible. It’s because you are standing here.’ What???
On the topic of the LGBT community
To start with, I shall say that my family is relatively very open minded about gays and lesbians (and I love them for that!) but they also have the weirdest way to express their support and acceptance. They have come a long way though.
First step was denial.
My first gay centric conversation with my folks went like this.
‘Mom, where is your cousin staying?’
‘At a friend’s.’
‘You mean at his boyfriend’s
‘No, how dare you? It’s his friend’.
‘He’s gay, mom.’
‘Who said this?’
‘He did. And you saw his gay porn collection all over his bedroom’.
‘Hmmmm (frozen face, red face )…i don’t think I did (and Asian stoic face). ‘
I was probably as confused as my gay childhood friend who came out to his parents in his early 20s…
‘Your friend is nice.’
‘He is my boyfriend.’
‘It will be lovely when I meet your girlfriend.’
‘Mom, he is my BOYfriend.’
‘I hope you decide to have children and…’
Intervention by the father: ‘Mama your son is trying to tell you that he likes boys’.
The mom: ‘Your kids will look pretty’.
Second step was curiosity.
‘So, ok I understand that they are in love and live together so now can you tell me who is the wife and who is the husband?’
‘Pop, that is not how it works!’
‘What do you mean? What’s the point if there is no wife and no husband?’
I still haven’t gathered the courage to ask further what my dad meant by that; scared shitless that he was being ‘graphic’ about it…oh dear…
Third step was full on support and approval 🙂
Three years ago, I overheard my mom tell her friends:
‘My daughter only has gay friends. She has been like this since she was a child. Gays tend to come to her. It makes sense though: they are gorgeous, very cultured, very funny, have good manners. Do you remember Archibald from her wedding? Yes he is one of ‘them’. I am telling you; they have it all. Her friends look like men too, you know. You would not have guessed. Yes, hell I do want them as friends too. I have to admit it; I do have gay friends too..’
There are so many wrong things in that last paragraph that I cannot even start breaking it down. But it does not change the fact that at the core of it is tolerance and love… or least a damn good attempt at it. And on days when news around the world about hatred and fear of each other just depress me, I do take some comfort in thinking that my folks are trying. Their own way. With some kind of twisted love. It can make you and break you. But they do try.
Lao readers, what is your most ‘what the fuck?’ moment triggered by a fellow Lao? Non Lao readers, what is your most ‘what the fuck’ moment triggered by a countryman/woman?
Wow, it just occurred to me that I haven’t talked about our family vacation !!! How can I not share a 2,000 Miles road trip to the land where one of the most popular songs is: ‘Whiskey in my water’?
After last year’s post-vacation meltdown, I was adamant that this year was going to be 360 degrees different and I had a checklist to keep my eyes on the ball:
– No flying – CHECK. We were going to drive so if the kids loose it we will be able to stop and let them have a total freak out while I drink wine or eat chips (my number one food comfort)
– Go somewhere I cannot be judged on my parenting skills in high stress situations – CHECK. We were traveling to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, bystanders probably will have no fucking clue of what ‘tu vas arrêter de faire chier ou pas????’ means and DOUBLE CHECK since we were renting a beach house with our friend Rafa, dad of two, who as a good old Marseillais swears like a truck driver. And thus cannot possibly judge me by the number of times I say FUCCCKKK!!!!
– Travel with child free and zen master/helper/masochist/friend who can suffer 50 renditions of ‘Let it go’ belted out by a trashier/less talented Von Trapp family without wincing – CHECK. Our girlfriend Maro from Berlin agreed to carpool from NYC. The girl is a top finance executive and a rock band drummer. We are a lightweight challenge for her…Plus I have checked and there were no major international airports between DC and Miami thus a reduced likelihood to dump us at a local mama’s fried chicken dinner.
What I love about road trips besides the fact my 3 kids are restrained in their car seats 4 hours a day is that you really get to discover the country you visit and in this instance, the very country I do now live in. And I have indeed learnt many,many things:
– Americans have this reputation of never traveling overseas. Europeans are often gobsmacked by this fact and often use it to evidence ill placed superiority. I now understand better why they don’t travel overseas: each state is really like a freaking different country…In the space of 2 weeks, we traveled to Gritty Philly, Complex Virginia between North and South, Rugged North Carolina, Laid Back South Carolina, Proud Romantic Georgia and for some reasons though the time zone has not changed I felt I had to adjust.
– Indians had no horses – originally! They used to travel by foot until the Spanish conquistadores brought horses into the country. Can you believe this? This fact just floored me. I hate you John Wayne.
– People don’t ‘mix’ in some states. I keep bragging about how every single kid the age of my children is of mixed cultural heritage in my neighborhood Well…Down in the South, blonde people are really, really blonde and black people are really, really black. And they don’t sit at the same tables. I swear. And then, I remembered that interracial marriages was legalized in those states less than 50 years ago in this part of the States. Blimey. I got a whole new understanding/appreciation for the civil rights movement in this country and of why it is a fucking big deal that Obama was twice elected president. Anyway, people on the beach could not figure out our crowd like AT ALL. What are these people: the mix raced couple with 3 ‘Chinese’ children, the Aryan lookalike family and the single child free almost 40 year old woman. An why do they ‘speak Cajun’?
– Americans do the beach differently to Europeans. They are fucking pros: 3 coolers on wheels, a gigantic gazebo that protects 6 adults, 4 teenagers, 3 toddlers, 6 foldable chairs, beers, food for the whole day, music player, planned activities american football for mornings, volleyball with proper nets for afternoons, tanning with feet in the ocean during low tide, BBQ for sunset. Meanwhile our crew of 5 adults and 5 tots were fighting over 1 seat/cooler placed under the one and only umbrella when we were not busy pushing ‘going to fall apart’ strollers on the sand…All this plus the non stop ‘Tu vas arreter, oui????'(‘are you going stop??? in a very, very loud voice) did set us apart. LOSERS. The funniest thing is that – unbeknownst to us when we booked our vacation – staying in Hilton Head Island meant a certain etiquette, savoir-vivre and bank account …so our fellow beach goers were rather dismayed by the bunch of tramps we were.
– P thinks that her twerking in our home bathtub is actual swimming, which is a problem when you rent a house with a not child safe swimming pool. I will spare you the drama…but yeah…Parent of the year award
– DH does not know the difference between a dolphin and a thin shark and thought it was clever to flap the water to call out a ‘dolphin’ while swimming with G. Someone will have to/be made to rewatch Blue Planet.
On this note, I shall finish with a list of country songs titles from the Highway radio. Hope all of you are having a kick ass summer! Xoxo
Made in America
Whiskey in my water
I am in hurry
Like a cowboy
Kiss me when I am down
Keep them kisses coming
Small town throwdown
(I am getting) Drunk on a plane
Hungover [please do appreciate that this song often followed the one title above – gotta love country music radios]
That s how we do summertime
I don’t dance
Country girl (shake it for me)
Hope you get lonely tonight
I hate bad customer service. It is one of those things that really bug me. Living in New York does not help; I get even more demanding now. However, something very out of character happened to me: two weeks ago, I almost tipped someone so that they stopped doing their job so well. It was a very kind beauty therapist…
Disclaimer: this post is kind of graphic and could cause discomfort. Read at your own risk. In my defense, I am muy loca these days.
With all the stress leading to our summer road trip down South and DH’s work news, I decided to finally claim my Mother’s Day present: a long overdue Mani Pedi and a massage. But since I, more than ever, needed to think ‘practical’, I opted out from the massage and asked for bikini waxing. It was a no brainer: I was going to the beach in South Carolina, it was going to be hot and whether I liked it of not I had to help DH supervise the kiddos in the sea. So yeah I had to do IT.
It was high time that I finally overcame my fear. I avoided any ‘maintenance’ job down there since L was born 2 years ago because I have this (irrational) belief that a tiny tiny strip of wax was going to rip open wide my C-section scar. Hey, people tend to sweep under the rug the excruciating pain of C-section recovery: ‘it is standard procedure, don’t sweat it, you’ll be fine…You will be like C- what again?‘ Bullshit !!! I am still traumatized about it and every time L is pinching my scar (and all the fat around it)-for fun- I swear I cry. Note: this boy is obsessed with fat so either he becomes a cosmetic surgeon, a personal trainer or a soap maker. Bets are on.
Anyway, I was feeling strong and did not flinch when I confidently replied ‘Brazilian’ after the beautician asked whether I wanted a a Brazilian or a basic bikini. But then, she started to voice her concern when she saw me naked:
‘Wow, it’s a lot…Are you sure? Have you done it before?
‘Yes, I did it once when I was in Sao Paulo years ago. It was way before I had kids…I know it is all a mess down here these days but see, I had 3 kids [as if…] and I had this C-section so been scared to do it again bla bla…’
The more I talked, the more confused she looked but she proceeded anyway…That’s when I started to get confused.
She told to lift this, and lift that, and turn this and turn that. WTF???!!!! I was so shocked that I could not utter a word and just obediently followed the instructions. Thousand thoughts and screams were bursting inside my head with the loudest one being this one:
‘Obviously now I know for sure. I never had a fucking Brazilian ever before!!!!! Because if I had, I would definitely know!’
I swear it felt like a thorough OBGYN checkup combined with an hemorrhoids consult. Every time I thought she was done, she was going back to it again…and AGAIN. Even mental teleportation to my calm and safe haven where I ‘go’ to when the kids piss me off (FYI recently that place has been the Catskills Mountains in the Fall season) failed to calm my nerves.
She finally paused:
‘You have very, very sensitive skin…
Me thinking: No I don’t it. Perhaps I am bleeding because this part is supposed to have hair to protect it?
‘Yes you are very sensitive, so I am going to ask you one last time. Are you sure you want me to take it all off?
At this point, it is not confusion anymore but sheer disarray:
‘What do you mean? Surely, there is nothing left to take off… I said partly smiling partly wimping partly melting with sweat. Let’s just pause now to imagine a selfie of that expression…hahaha.
Realizing that I would never understand what she meant even if she was to speak very slowly and articulate every single sound, she just silently pointed her finger at my ‘sacred line’. My eyes rolled out of my head and I finally screamed: ‘Please stop now, please’.
‘Sure. Let me ‘clean’ the rest some details.’ She said getting her tweezer out to finish me off.
When I left the treatment room, I noticed that:
– I have been in there for almost an hour
– I could barely walk
– I should have thought better than wear tight jeans
And most importantly, as I was slowly moving toward the seat where my pedi would take place, I saw that all the customers were staring at me big time as if wondering whether or not I had my whole body waxed…Once home and after all the redness disappeared, I started to laugh. In the last few years, I have been telling people how the whole IVF process, multiple vaginal exams during my two pregnancies, my two deliveries by C-section destroyed all my sense of privacy and intimacy and claiming proudly that now old prudish me could face anything bla bla bla. As if no other woman on Earth could understand a word of what I freaking went through.
Turns out any woman who had a $50 full brazilian wax (or any gay man period) probably totally gets it!
My week has been an odd mix of work related meetings, a boozy dinner with my hot mama girlfriends (which I am still struggling to recover from), a delightful visit from a friend whom I last saw at my wedding 10 years ago and the sad realization that I have become the latest war hatchet between my sons. Their daily fights have been pretty much as described below:
G: she is my mama
L is scratching G’s face.
G: go away she is mine !
L is strangling me to prove that I am his property
G: Stop!!! And whacks L’s head out
Me? In my head, I am singing the opening verse of that Whitney Houston song that says:
‘I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside’ bla blabla
Weird week, one minute I was all pumped up by my girlfriends (after 2 bottles of red wine) and very ready to conquer the world or at least Corporate America and the next minute, I am stomping my feet on my bathroom floor almost crying and thinking of cutting out my belly fat. I have been on a healthier diet for 10 days but actually gained 5lbs! It’s probably all the binge eating during the President’s Day week end. 4 toddler play dates in 3 days explain the amount of comfort food. (Note: as I am writing this ranting post on my iPhone with my left hand, my right hand is stuffing my mouth with Lao Larb gai. Redlipstickmama style).
I also haven’t written all week and I missed it a lot. It has really become my safe haven. However, today the only thing that I want to talk about is the stuff that has been getting under my skin lately. Nothing death threatening or serious, just stuff that bothered me and that for some reason still bothers me when I think of it. I am being very childish about them and often rant on my own, in my own head so I thought it might be a sane thing to share these and get it over with. Here’s my top 4 pet peeves (this week). I tried to go for a more ‘Top something’ number like my ‘Top 5′ but I could not find a fifth one; my life must be way nicer than I thought. Anyway, here’s the list:
– parents who dress their babies and tots with College Tshirts (Harvard, Yale, Princeton of course…). I mean, of course you should be proud of attending such prestigious institutions but actually labeling your child like this? It really bothers me. I mean, C’mon the poor thing still poops in diapers and probably thinks that their mobile is actually an entire fucking solar system. What if the kid is a drop out, will they look at the onesie and think:’yeah I did my old folks proud’? It actually got worse. The other day I saw a tot wearing a tee shirt saying ‘Palo Alto’…Seriously.
– finding crap in my shoes. When I leave my apartment (and my kids behind), there’s something resembling a breeze of fresh air that seems to be going through my entire body. I am so giddy to get time on my own and then bang my toes touch something unorthodox and I go absolutely nuts. I really do because I have to remove my foot, often clean my sock, and start an in-depth search for what is now bloody delaying my freedom! I have previously found: lip balms, grapes, chocolate chip cookies, banana, wooden toys, baby socks, a baby boot, used facial tissues and my absolute favorite, DH’s underwear.
– dog owners who don’t pick up their dogs’ poop because it has snowed. What is wrong with people? Snow is NOT magic powder making shit disappear, transforming Harlem into Lapland and turning my organic butcher into freaking Santa Claus (his tenderloin is still pricey). Poop is everywhere. So here I am taking my kids out after the snow storm and they are understandably frantic after being stuck inside for so long. They run towards pristine hills of fresh snow until they actually choke from my pulling them away by their hoods just before they dive into a pile of poop. Them being dirty is one thing but L actually eats and licks snow and ice from the street behind my back. Ewww.
– L grabbing my boobs. It has never been cute for me but now it is infuriating. It is non stop, night and day, 100 hundred times a day. He tries and tries to get his hands into my bra and I really refrain hard from screaming:‘these are my boobs! I let you borrow them for a while when you needed food but it is OVER now’. He is getting bolder too…More recently, he has been caught several times trying to get his foot into my panties. I have a very strong sense of ‘my body is mine’ and this little boy is pushing me right now. I caught myself looking at him sideways this week wondering if I should really worry about him but then, I saw him licking cookie crumbs off the floor and concluded that he probably had not yet understood that he was not a little puppy and that my name was not Lassie.
Anything that really annoys you these days?
Some pics from White Central Park and me rolling down a slope (and hurting my neck…a little)
Sara Goldfarb: [about her pills] Purple in the morning, blue in the afternoon, orange in the evening.
There’s my three meals, Mr. Smartypants. And green at night. Just like that.
One, two, three, four.
Requiem for a dream (2000)
[Preliminary note: this post contains themes much heavier than my usual stuff such as drugs, alcohol, gambling shit]
We just got back from a 5-day trip to Vermont and yesterday at 8pm was the first time in the last week or so that I have found myself on my own, truly. Nothing frivolous, it was just me on my way to grocery shopping. But just as I was going to exit my building, I sat down in the cold lobby and felt …bummed out. I was feeling down and had been feeling this way for a couple of days. Because Philip Seymour Hoffman died.
I feel stupid and crazy just saying it out loud. And if I am being perfectly honest, it is just not that he died that makes me sad. It is not just because I will no longer have the joy of watching his immense talent. It is just not because, in a completely silly way, I felt connected to him, having seen him many times with his young son by his side cheering ‘in unison with me’ the ups and downs of our team, the Knicks. Every time his debonair face was shown by the Madison Square Garden production crew, I would squeal like a mad fan. I was also always surprised by how the Garden’s crowd, who usually cheered comedians like Chris Rock and simply ignored non-TV peeps, would actually give a very warm welcome to this character actor. I guess it is what real talent does: it breaks barriers. So, as I was saying, I was not only sad because he died but also because of how he died: an alleged overdose. His death is yet another proof that addiction often wins out.
Addiction pisses me off, uneases me and pains me. It pisses me off when DH stops listening to me while playing Angry Freaking Bird or Candy crush snubs me. It uneases me when some of my loved ones take prescription drugs unsupervised to ‘take the edge off’. And it pains me because deep inside I am terrified that I was born to be an addict.
I always felt blessed that I never touched hard drugs when I was presented with it. I mean, I am still dabbling with a smoking addiction for Heaven’s sake. Indeed, in the last 14 years I relapsed twice for a couple of years each time. People are bewildered by the fact that I can go through 7 or 8 years without one fag, just to fuck it up one evening after a little too much alcohol and a little too much fun. It’s always the same story: a flickering lighter, a few inhalations and the self conviction that ‘it’s no big deal, I have kicked this one before’. The sad truth is that I have never kicked out the dependency but rather let it sleep…every now and then.
In College, I saw cocaine, ecstasy, acid, a lot of shit passing through. I always refused to try any of it, claiming that my anal retentive persona could never let myself go entirely anyway so what was the point? But truth to be told, a part of me was scared shitless about what addiction to this crap could do to me. I could not even handle booze. I once woke up in an unknown apartment, age 20, covered in my own puke after 1 year of what I now know was college binge drinking but was back then called ‘having fun’. I woke up, I stole a T-shirt, and threw my top in a street trash can and walked home, my brain about to explode, and bawling my eyes out. I almost fucking killed myself in my own puke. What the fuck? Unbelievable. And for what? NEVER again. As I watched people walking to work and looking suspiciously at my disheveled self, I remember thinking: ‘I should really know better’.
Indeed, I have seen my mom, a reformed pathological gambler, feeling invincible while being possessed by the thrill of losing or gaining it all. And it looked very ugly. I have seen an intelligent woman incapable of making any (let alone the right) decision for herself or her family. Her feverish eyes and mad giggling when touching a stack of cards have scarred me to life. And I was (and probably still am) convinced that addiction, that feverish look and mad giggling, was/is in my DNA, in waiting to be unleashed. It is paranoia probably but maybe not.
Casinos for example freak the hell out of me. When people hear laughter, the clinking of cocktail glasses, the whispers and sighs after the roulette stops, I hear my parents screaming at each other about the mortgage not being paid, the chatter of women cooking non stop in our kitchen to feed the gamblers, drunks dancing on music from a badly tuned sound system and the muffled cheesy ballads from the headphones my sis was always wearing to cover the noise. However, despite all this, the few times I have been dealt some cards or given some coins for slot machines I become absolutely frantic. I can feel the surge in my veins. I just want more of everything.
That is why I try to stay the hell away from temptations. Full stop. And I feel I am OK, I am on top of this. But when stories about some guy who died relapsing after decades of being clean emerge, it fucks me up big time. And I get scared about addiction in general. And I am also so angry. Especially when that dude was one of the greatest. In his Time obituary Aaron Sorkin, a recovering drug addict, wrote about PSH: ‘I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean’.
I hope so.
R.I.P Philip Seymour Hoffman – Photo Credit: Victoria Will/Invision/AP.