Category: amphetamine


You have classics such as Carlos Castaneda “The teachings of Don Juan”, you have William S. Borroughs “Naked Lunch” and then there are Kathy Acker “Blood and guts in highschool” and tons of people who tried to jump the bandwagon. In the 90’s we have Irvine Welsh who is not just the “Trainspotting” but also the author of “Acid House”… But probably one of the more unknown ones, there is an 80’s novel by the back then still unknown American author Bret Easton Ellis. He wrote this novel at age 21 and it’s called “Less than zero”. Later on, it was made a movie with Robert Downey Jr. who himself quite often struggled with being on and off drugs.
I want to talk about this book since it was an eye opener for me. In many ways.

Back then when it came out, I was still at school when it came out. But as soon as I lived in Ireland I would make sure to read it.
I actually first read the book and then saw the film.
The whole book is a good sized package. It includes so many good streaks about modern western society that you cannot even say it is purely a drugs book because it would not be true.

Ellis lets us into the heart of American culture. Their obsessions, the silence within families that asphyxiating silence, and the pure hedonism of a youth centered culture.

It is still an easy read and a fast paced novel. At the end of the day, you see a group of friends shaken and faced with being part of a system that is pretty glamorous on the outside but sometimes proves to be a pitfall, and allows for more and more people to stumble, fall and not get back up again.

The part of Julian who is the heroic anti hero, the guy whose life falls spectacularly apart is so heavy that sometimes you keep asking yourself how Downey Jr was able to carry this off with such lightness and with such ease and charme.

Anyone who is wondering about the term spoilt brat, brat generation or generation x should read up on Ellis. He wrote for the generation x. For some Ellis is THE generation x author. The generation x covers the between 1965 -1975 born ones. It is a narrow generation but neither before nor after did we find ourselves inmidst a maelstrom of cultural decadence, affluence, and the feeling that everything would be possible some day not too far away, and these kids lived by it and through it. Let’s face it… My generation, we were growing up in absolute affluence, and the sometimes insane feeling that anything was possible. As long as you had the money to buy it, hire it or do it.

In gold digger terms: Boomtown years. The years of 1985 until 1999 more or less. I would make the cut here. You could argue and include 2000 but there was already the sign of an decreasing economy so I would just go as far and include 1999. In any case, 9-11 was the already a totally different era.

I will expand on the historic dimension and also on the impact of politics, terrorism and education another time since it would somehow make this article expand too much, but the crucial point is this: we – our generation – took the drugs because… Just because.  We simply could. It was a juvenile try out. It was somehow recreational. Like people do wellness or yoga. Speed, acid and pot were the yoga and bling bling of the mid-late 80’s and throughout the 90’s.  The money was there. Jobs were plenty. People were well off. Cold war had ended. There was no imminent war with anyone except for the gulf war. Everyone was relatively rich in the 80’s and beginning 90’s. So… The brat generation was born. Douglas Coupland called us generation x. But I find brat generation much more apt cos ours was the first ever generation after ww2 that was totally free in terms of freedom of speech, had received good education, was not forced to make do, but was rather encouraged to spend more time studying, and this would pay off, and still even students had plenty of money and other amenities through their parents, through society and the way the world was in. The basic word that comes to mind would be squander.

The funny thing is… 2000 was already the end of the dot com area and the high fly dreams of many many people.

So, just in case you should also belong to the generation x or brat pack, go out and read “Less than zero” and you will understand many things, looking into the rear mirror so to speak.

Plus it is a fast book that gets you hooked from the first moment. One thing I very much liked about Ellis and his style was that his stories sound like reality. These people are pretty much all out there. The situations too.

Julian is a true anti-hero, a lost boy, a kind and very weak character. Even though someone should protect him, he finds himself on a trip, caught in a downward spiral and we become voyeuristic witnesses of what he has to go through. The end is something very un-american and that is why I like so much about this book.

This is one of these books that you read, then put it aside, pick it up again and re-read it.
It is a very good novel about friendship, decadence, power and power abuse, drugs and the  principle “the show must go on”.

If you are afraid of reading a “drug book”, take it easy. “Less than Zero” is a read that shows and combines drugs, social decline and misery, but it is not as outspoken as others books earlier mentioned.

Should “Less Than Zero” be too lame and too boring, too harmless for you, try “Naked Lunch” instead.
Having said that, I do not find it lame or boring in any way, it is subtle. I really prefer “Less Than Zero” to “Naked Lunch”.

In case, you are interested in the urban novel, try and read Jay McInerney. “Bright Lights, Big City”. Here we have a sweet case of love, heartbreak and obsession. The coke he is snorting, the affect that the drugs have on him and the constant partying is a sideline but it is like it is an antagonist of the story-teller. Another generation x novel.

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I will do something now that I normally never do: I will tell you just at the beginning, that this is quite a long and tedious posting. I bet you will not like it. Better find a different blog. This one is really lame. If you are not interested in reading anything truthful, yet serious and about waylaid sex, about love and lust, pleasure and pain, mixed up sex orientation in teenagers and twens, then, don’t read this post. If you are willing to read it, get in, and enjoy the ride.

Sometimes I am being dragged, whoosh, all over the place since our teeny weenie dog Cedric is no longer so teenie weenie like before when we first had him in August. Actually, he makes sure that I get out a lot and get a good share of long walks which is just fine by me. He eats and sleeps a lot, but mostly he is full of energy and wants to play a lot. Our little garden patch did not last long under the new garden architecture that he introduced. He either loves or he hates lavender. I love it and I am kind of sad that he dugged out all the little plants. And he developed a good hunting instinct, also he is now a force to be reckoned with, and I do have to run after him since my natural authority somehow seems to wash with him only in connection with little yummy treats (ehem). Well, still, we are working on that one.

So, as I was saying, when I am walking alone which does happen lots of times, my mind just wanders and I really start to forget about the daily grind. My mind is immersed in so many unfiltered thoughts, I am sometimes amazed at what thoughts I come up with. Like I said, I truly and deeply relax as others might relax doing an apple cake with cinnamon, driving a motorbike, diving a coral reef, having a karate training, trying out a new lipstick or having a bubble bath or swimming naked on your favorite beach or reading a book you really like. Last time I was out on my own, it really came to me that I should sometime start and write down a bit of an autobiography, you know, the stories, the people, the things that made me the person I am today. It is not that I am so much in love with myself (working on that one, too) that I think I need to have a keepsake of my oh so important life, no, nothing like that. No. To me, it is rather a quest to understand why I am sometimes really exhausting, a bit eccentric and so hard for others to understand. I know this might sound a bit weird, but in a way, I tend to be proud I am different. But then again, in other moments, I just wished I would have had a different background, a different youth and a diferent set of cards right at the beginning. But then again, what can you do?

That’s water under the bridge now.

Some say this is karma. Some others don’t give a toss. I tend to belong to the others. The point I very awkwardly am trying to make here is that we are who we are. No matter how much we hide it, no matter how much makeup powder we put on, no matter what our aspirations are, no matter how much we try to turn ourselves into others and try to appear in a different light, we still are what we are.

Again, where am I going with this train of thought? I guess, I am trying to say that even though I can sometimes demanding, I can be pretty egoistical, sometimes even a bitch at times (there, I said it), perfectionist to the point of a mild obsession. My husband would now laugh if he would read this, mild??? You must be joking.  I can even hear him say it right now. Ok, scrub it, so instead: a wild obsession. That better, honey? Ok. For the sake of avoiding any marital dissonance, so it is.

Anyway, while I was out with the dog, I asked myself, if I would be me if I hadn’t had all these ups and downs, experienced all the things I did, enjoyed, suffered and lived through a great many, wild, crazy, and sometimes really not so funny situations. Would I still be me? Sure I would. Silly question. But the “I” of the presumed presence would be different to the “I” of the really historic “I” and therefore, we shall never know. So, again, in terms of a philosophical and also psychological perspective, we need to view things from an empiristic point of view. We humans are all unique, because of our genes but more so because of our experiences and our senses. We have our little traits, we all have our talents, and for sure we all have our flaws, we all have our fair share of virtues, but also of vices. Life would be damn boring, if it wasn’t like that.

Will you show me yours, if I will show you mine?

That is probably one of the oldest games between children of the opposite sexes. Why are we so damn attracted to look at the genital region of the opposite sex? Well, yeah, I know, there is quite an obvious reason, but honest, I swear I did not mean that. Anyhow, as children we hardly knew anything about it, so that cannot be the only reason for it either.

I truly have no remembrance of such an encounter (there was something, but it looks kind of blurred, hahaha), but I imagine that this is something we all try to understand, why are we humans built in two different models. Why did life itself come up with a set of two different sexes, why are there boys and girls, men and women? I haven’t got the faintest clue to be honest. But it sure is fun, isn’t it?

To be dead honest, I have always been interested in this topic, ancient as life itself. Listen up. I have a thesis. If we were equipped with all the same standard material, it would a) be not any fun at all unwrapping christmas presents if you get me. It would just be like, oh yeah, I know. I got the same. Nice meeting you. Bye bye. b) there would be no mystery involved. I have the theory that love itself is about overcoming the difficulties of understanding the opposite sex. Half of it is trying to make yourself understood, and the other half is chemistry.

But since we happen to have been blessed with such a funny equipment, we tend to be more adventuresome. We tend to be proud of what we are. Are we?

Are we really?

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Well, I guess it really depends. Which part of the world you were born in. Which family you had the luck to be born into. If your parents wished for a boy / girl (vice versa). These are all criteria that can make life easy for you, or it can make life hard.

I remember that when I grew up, I had a strong sense that being a girl was only second best. I had two brothers. I was the middle child. I was the odd one out. I remember now that I quite seriously wanted to be a boy. I mean don’t get me wrong, I was not transsexual. Only thing is that I did not feel at ease being a girl. I never knew my lines being a girl. Do you get me? That my mother gave me always the trousers that were quite worn out from my older brother, did not make this any better. I was always a bit of  a tomboy. I climbed trees, I was very good at short distance running. I wanted to learn judo. I tend to get into a fight for nothing to show off my strength with the other boys in the  streets.  But as the years progressed, boys started to look at me wondering who I was. That was pretty weird. I kind of felt I was somewhere in the middle. I felt like a girl but something within me shouted “let me please disguise as a boy”. I wanted to make myseld invisible since I felt so insecure.  I even looked quite boyish by nature, my features were kind of unisex, which did not make things easier at all for me. Kids I had never seen would shout at me in the bus and ask me if I were a boy or a girl. Some others would call me names. I would not answer. One part of me happy I was not easy to figure out, the other part of me was afraid my voice would give me away. Then, when a sturdier boy would came after me, trying to beat me up, I would run for dear life. Like I said I was always very good at short distance. Childhood for me was not a safe place. My parents were both working. They were hardly at home. But one thing they always made sure was to show me that girls were not allowed as many fun things as boys. Don’t get your clothes dirty. You should be home by that time. You are a girl. Girls don’t do that. That was such a screaming injustice that I now know that it really wasn’t a sexual identity thing at all, it was a mix up alright, but rather all mixed with the thought of a child who came to understand that girls don’t get as much freedom as boys. So, that was the natural solution. I wanted freedom and be able to do all the nice and wild things boys were allowed to do. So I needed to act and look like a boy. Nothing else.

 

Looking back on it now, this might seem an odd memoir, but what I really wanted to say is this. What ever you wish for, be it a boy or a girl. Whatever your tradition is, please don’t let your children suffer the same shit as me. I do believe, that life could have been easier if I hadn’t had this twist in my personal history. Much much later, I got to understand that I was really a girl. And that it is nice to be a girl. I did come to like it. That much is true. And it does not necessarily have to be defeat if you start crying, or if you feel helpless and you admit to it. I grew up in a weird testosterone dominated environment where girls did not count at all and boys were everything.

Right now, I think that I have overcome it. Ten years ago, I was still quite unaware of it. It was dormant, hard for me to admit it, to even to speak about it, let alone give it away that I felt insecure being a girl/woman. Today, I can rationalize it, I can vocalize it and I can understand the patterns of behaviour. I can even laugh about it.

At university, this drama of a mixed up identity or a missed female coining, kind of persisted. Due to my sexually confused behaviour, I was often dubbed the ice princess. I came over being aggressive and yet still kind of unattainable. The talk was I might be bisexual. God, even I did not know this rumour. I spelled trouble. I got many dates, many of them with really sweet boys, but I just could not bring myself to find the right tune. I did not know the right key to hit a strike. At night time, I went out a lot. I tried out a lot. Sex, drugs and rock´n´roll. Yes, I had between 19 and 23 my fair share of madness and mayhem. I somehow tried to win back all the time, and the experience my peers seemed to have achieved in their late teens while my Greek father was watching over my every step. Moving out at 18, I plunged head over heels into life, an unknown source at the time. For me that was a very intense period where I was rarely left on my own. I did not want to be alone. But most of all, I wanted to see what I had been missing.

I craved life itself. It felt like I had been living an ascetic life. Something which is probably true.

So, I did it all. I kicked and screamed. I kissed and scratched at the surface. I drank from the golden cup. I did not leave out one foolishness. No. I guess I did them all. Sometimes I dug my nails in deeper. Those were wild nights. Filled with sheer, mindless and directionless energy that only youth possesses.

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While I was 20 I fell very much in love with one guy. Then fate would have it that I came to be a grant student at Trinity. So I would be gone almost a year. The wide world was beckoning. We hadn’t gone all the way until then. When the last day before my journey to Ireland approached, we finally decided we would give it a go. It was in his parents home. That was such a silly thing that happened. Yeah, guess what, his parents, no, his father suddenly opened the bedroom door while I hid under the covers. I was mortified and still I laughed because it seemed to be taken from a French teenage movie. The next day, he brought me to the trainstation which would bring to Frankfurt. I flew to Dublin, via Paris. It was an adult thing to do. To say goodbye. I felt so immensely mature and aloof. Little did I know.

We wrote each other tons of letters. It felt good. Then I noticed that he had fallen in love with another girl. I tried to talk myself into thinking that it did not matter. I was away anyway, why shouldn’t he have some fun? When I came back, I found out how much fun he had had. My little heart became yellow. I was so jealous, I could hardly stand myself being that way. When he touched me, it was like a fever that consumed my whole being. But still. Our time window had closed. We both moved on. It was a shame. But it was over. So over.

At 21, turning 22, I fell for a gay guy. He was so unattainable. So provocatively sexy and really mature, mind you he was 26. I guess that I was deeply and madly in love, or to put it in other words, I was infatuated. Maybe I was just not ready for love, I wanted to have a boyfriend, but one that would not get too close, one that was right because he was not right for me. Got it? So, we dated. But to be honest, let’s face it. Girls and ladies, have you never dreamed of turning a gay guy around? Never? Liar! It was a kick. So we talked. He was nice, intelligent, good looking. The only strange thing was that he fucked a gynaecologist. That was pretty weird. And yet, whenever I was with him, I felt so safe and so cared for. With him was like being protected. While I had a cold, he would mother me until I was good to go again. I felt home. The real trouble just started when we finally landed in bed with each other. Yep, that’s when the real problems started. I was so unexperienced, so green. It really hurts even thinking about it now how inexperienced I was. I was wax in his hands. Let’s face it. I never had a chance. He knew fully well what he was doing. This guy, let’s call him Francis, was bisexual. And all of a sudden, I was amidst a bizarre love triangle. That was way more than I had bargained for. His gay love interest was so jealous of me, he wanted to punch me. I was 22, Francis was 26, and the other guy was 29 I guess. We both shared a love for music, whenever I was with him, his guy would make sure, we would run into him. He would push me aside, so he could kiss Francis right before my eyes. I was so devoted to Francis, I kind of did everything he wanted for him. Christ, I even hid out at school so I could help him pass his Latin exam at his evening school. I guess there is not much I would not have done for him. He was in a theatre company at the time and played a very modern type Hamlet. I trained him speaking english with an english accent. I spent all my money just being with him. I took a train all across the town only to be with him for a couple of minutes. I had it really bad. I had become a dumb muppet of his. My glasses were so deeply pink in their shades that I hardly noticed when someone slipped them  off.

This someone happened to be my gay roommate. He invited his and my friends all over to our place and I had to witness that Francis was just keen to torture anyone who had been foolish enough to fall for him. Ok, that someone happened to be me. That was not so much fun. My roommate tried to warn me. He knew that Francis was only in love with being the centre of attention. He asked me why on earth did I have to pick a gay guy when I knew so many cuties.

 

But if you loved once, you know how difficult it is to stay sane if you are deeply and madly in love. I saw them kissing, trying to avert my eyes, intending not appear too keen. I wandered, kissed and being kissed by other men. I felt icecold and burning up. Sometimes I was approached by other women. I no longer cared. If he could have men and women, why shouldn’t I try and go for the same? I have to admit it. I really tried it out only once and went all the way. I was with a gorgeous female co-student and her boyfriend and we decided we would have a threesome. Hm, no, it basically just happened. It was winter. We were in this tiny little student appartment. We were cold. All soaked wet from the snow. We undressed and huddled up on the sofa beneath a blanket. It kind of just happened. There was a mutual consent between us three. I must admit, it was not bad at all. But I really prefer men to women.

Francis was better than me at this game. I only teased him. He knew how he could torture me. He knew how he would drive a stake through my heart. And he did. After that night, I was suicidal. And I really did something really stupid. I took some strong hallucinogenic drug. I was all on my own, I was also offered heroin. Luckily, I did not take that but LSD instead. I should have known better really. Lucky me, though, I only ended up having a bad trip. That was a long, long night that one. And when I was coming to my senses again, I knew that the gay guy was out. The ridiculous thing was that as soon as I did not act as devoted as before, he kind of showed more interest. However, whatever you see in a trip is somehow a sign that can be translated into normal life. I just knew I should forget about him, so I moved on, he moved on and he looked out for a fresh victim. There are people like him. After that I took an HIV test, the first one I ever did. Back in those days, 1992/3, it was kind of shameful to have a HIV test. A HIV test said that you had been a bad girl/boy. They tested you, give you a handful of condoms and brochure in four colour print. But I wanted to know.  I needed to know to continue life. I had to wait for one whole week. You went there anonymously. You had this little piece of paper. I knew he had really had so many affairs. He always said that condoms were not made for him. Of course, we did not take one. That week I swear to God, I hardly slept a wink. I felt that if fate has me then I would be HIV positive. But I wasn’t. Glad I survived my own stupidity.

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A couple of years later, I met him. He had put on a lot of weight and lived in an open gay relationship. He still loved me in a way I guess. He was super friendly and it felt right for a very short moment.  However, I no longer loved him. How did it feel for him to hold so much power over someone. How was it to have an innocent love to a young woman while having a gay relationship? Cos that is what it was. I had loved him no matter what. Something I don’t know what had been there, a tie between us. Maybe he did not know what he did to me. That was one moment I will never forget. I left and did not look back again.

At 22/23 I was pretty much disillusioned. I felt as if I had seen it all. I was alone and I wanted to be alone. I studied a lot, and relationships left me feeling disgusted. However I still felt the urge to continue my quest for sex, lust and some more extremes. No strings attached. I wanted nothing but sex. In its purest form. I wanted sex in a very masculine way. Somehow. On a deeper level, of course, I yearned to have someone as deeply fascinating and still someone who was sane enough not to be the apex of a love triangle. I dated no-one. I had one night stands. Fair enough. I did not try to be something I was not up for. I just wanted to have some fun. I once more fell for the drugs I had started taking while I was 15, 16 and had given up in between. Only now, I also started taking speed again, and some other amphetamines to really make it through the night and afterwards be able to study and go to my parttime job in the city. I really did not care. It was quite a hedonistic era, 1993, 1994. I did anything I wanted. I danced the nights away. I stumbled out from the disco and into some seedy clubs. I would sniff speed and go back home at dawn.

Shortly after I had started taking amphetamines, a friend of mine warned me, that I was already pretty hooked, it was true, there was not many nights I did not take it. I was on a large dose of speed already. I had upped and upped the dose since enough was never enough. Coming down was the hardest part. Normal life seemed so excruciatingly slow. It felt like I was trapped in a slow motion picture. Life was only real when the pulse hit you with a feel that you knew the grip would not let go of you until the next morning came. Speed just felt too good. The great part was you were left with enough energy to go to uni and study. Only in the afternoon I would go home to crash and wake up around midnight again. How was I supposed to live life when things were so damn slow? To be honest, speed was the drug that was cut out for me. My heart rate increased, I had slight arrythmic moments from taking drugs. I never really thought about the things that could happen. It wasn’t LSD, it was just speed, it was the cheapest drug you could buy. Cheaper than pot and marijuana. My only concern would be if it had been cut with some washing detergent. I remember I had this small little mirror cosmetics box where I hid a small paper fold, a naked razor blade and a cut up mcdonald’s straw. That was my personal tool kit. Perfect to prepare a line when you were out at night. Anyway, so this friend of mine told me not to take it anymore. She made me promise. I was a bit fucked up then. Who was she to tell me what was right and what wasn’t. Of course I did not keep my promise, I got the stuff somewhere else.

Shortly after, still 23, I met my future husband. I did not expect anything. But everything was suddenly there. There was a sudden feel of being innocent again and being able to fall in love again. And it happened just like it was meant to be. He saw me, I saw him. Thunderbold and lightning. It was in the uni library. We exchanged phone numbers, I left. He called. We met. We talked most of the night. Touching the hand of the other shyly. A gaze from the sidewalk. We walked by foot a long long way. At my appartment, we did all sorts of things until we passed out. It had to be that way.

Now, at 41, almost 42, I look back upon that girl… That girl that was afraid of love. That girl who wanted to trade in sex for love. That silly stupid and sweet girl. I am so damn lucky to have survived so many bad moves, and to have found the man I am with, the love of my life.

I cannot undo the harm that was done. But what I can do is to let it go. I do not need the scars of the past anymore. They are what they are. But most of all, this is the past. That was then, this is now.

If you have children, please make sure, they identify with their sex and don’t let them think that one sex is better than the other. Children are very susceptible that way. They will believe anything. As absurd as it might be. Be sure to tell them you love them. Children want to and need to hear this each and every day. This is much more important than a pint of milk. Love is much more nourishing in so many ways. I would go back in time if I could do something to change my childhood and change the past. Help myself with the knowledge I have now.

If you have children, make sure they understand at an early age, but not too early, what drugs are and why they are dangerous and can seriously fuck you up. I still have that one speech ahead of me, and I hope that I will find the right words to tell my children that I did take drugs but that I am not really proud about it and that there are way more fun things to do in life than doing drugs.

I need to forgive my parents that they never accepted me being their daughter but instead treated me like an invader, like an outsider all my life, and that they still give me the feeling that I am the persona non-grata. Including my two brothers. Actually, they treat me like I would not exist. All that matters are they. I seem not to belong to this family. Lucky me. They are like the mafia somehow, and sadly, I don’t belong, I am the girl outside. Fuck you. I am me. And I can live, and love without you!

Some people need to be 42 to grow up, to make peace, to let go of their past. That is the case with me.

And I won’t let this destroy my life.

Brendan Kennelly who was my English teacher at Trinity College Dublin, once told me something. And I swear to God the way I am recounting it, that is a true anecdote.

(Me, looking really beaten and crushed. Boy trouble.)

“What kind of a face are you pulling? Smile. This is a beautiful day.”

(Headstrong, and still crushed, a bit angry)

“How can it be a beautiful day? It ain’t.”

(He starts to laugh uproaringly and looked at me provocatively with his laughing piercing blue eyes.)

“You have been kicked in the teeth, ain’t ya?”

(I look on the ground, even more crushed. Shit, why can people always tell when I say nothing?)

“Chrys, you know what? Never mind that boy.

I am telling you something and that is going to bug you most.

You are a survivor.

(I looked at him with a big question mark in my gaze).

Yes, you are. And you know it. Get out there, Chrys, get some air, the sun shines.”

(He shoved me gently to the open door, turned around and left me smiling)

He is such an irreverant character but he kind of pinpointed the exact situation without knowing anything. So, is he psychic? No. I was just such a child back then that it did not take much to read my mind and to see what’s going on. Still. Five out of five for that quote, Brendan. Have a pint on me. You are the most amazing English teacher I have ever had. Maybe a bit of a father figure.

Brendan Kennelly used to be English professor at TCD until 2005 and is also a well loved Irish poet.

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