That drive from Austin to San Diego was a really long drive. We were in a mid 80s Subaru wagon that had just had some work done to it and the mechanic promised us that it would make it, but we were still concerned. Going across Texas, seeing the hill country turn into the desert… trees disappear for a while replaced by shrubs and cacti, different colors, landscapes, all contributing to the minds ability to wonder… my mind usually goes to self-abusive inner dialogue really fucking quick.
I’ve learned kind of how to spot it now when it begins to manifest and usually I can stop that inner dialogue from becoming the precursor for possible depression like symptoms or, especially when I was younger and certainly at this point in 2002 my mind and inner dialogue could easily contribute to depression. I still have to stop that inner dialogue… which is much easier with a few degrees under my belt. “You’re so fucking stupid.” “You’re completely worthless.” are both things that I catch me saying to myself still. That’s no way to talk to yourself. If I can just remove that negativity… which is a tall order, I’ll be doing so much better, I keep thinking in my head as if those positive thoughts somehow push out the harmful negativity. I have though reduced that inner dialogue simply by not being afraid to spot it, address it, think about some academic accomplishments, and laugh it off. That’s what I do.
Back in 2002 it was hard to laugh on that trip though, but if you ever have to drive across the country with someone, Man-Boobs is your guy. We had some joints rolled up, ready to eat if needed, but we didn’t bring that much weed. Shit, we were pretty broke overall… we had worked at this phone survey job together, saving for an apartment’s deposit and first months rent, deposits for lights, etc… just trying to somehow make it to San Diego where we could just start over.
We were both running away from shit… trying to escape from Austin, from our old lives, old way of doing things. On the way there we keep ourselves busy by listening to Man-Boobs amazing cd collection filled with jazz, beastie boys, tribe called quest, and all kinds of other artists, or by plotting how we were going to become great comedians and meet lots of cool people, do amazing shows, and hang out in Hollywood. Our friend Mack was still in Austin though, he was on probation for shrooms so he couldn’t leave yet, but we were starting to talk about him coming out to California also. The drive was usually fun, full of joking around, but it was a veneer for us both since it’s not like we were leaving Austin the right way.
Man-Boobs was running away from local notoriety in a way. Everyone in Austin knowing him from the morning show… from being the morning show dork that got made fun, ridiculed, and then eventually publicly fired. This was a new opportunity, but it was still an escape.
My experience was different. I had pissed off so many different people in Austin that I couldn’t even keep track of it. I learned later from Mack that there was actually more heat on me at the time than I really even knew or was aware of. It seemed like I had left just in time, but I was running away from myself and my problems without really knowing or addressing my problem with alcohol. I knew that I was a heavy drinker, but an alcoholic? No… my problem was cocaine. Now, yes sometimes I would say to myself “Steven you have a drinking problem.” But that would get lumped into the same category of internal dialogue where “You’re stupid.” or where “You don’t do anything right and no one really likes you.” live. I just lumped any internal dialogue regarding alcoholism there. Now, it’s hard to do that with crack or heavy coke use. It’s hard to not see the potential problems or obstacles created by becoming a coke or crack addict with crack addict really taking that number one position, but I was pretty sure that part of my life was behind me.
I was leaving Austin under really bad circumstances. I owed people money, a couple of people wanted me hurt really bad… two girls that I had dated were really pissed off at me and their boyfriends were even more so. I’ll never do that again… be that dude. I knew it was wrong at the time, I knew the dudes would get mad. I knew that eventually shit would hit the fan and that there was a good possibility that one of two, not huge guys, but bigger than me and I was a heavy smoker, coke user, alcoholic… not that hard to kick my ass at that point. It’s hard to leave with that much baggage. I found myself looking over my shoulder all the time, wondering who was going to find me out at a show somewhere, it was just awful, but I did it to myself. Well, that’s true but I did these things while really being knee deep in alcoholism. Alcoholism is really bad when it’s not the focus… when cocaine abuse is taking center stage and alcohol seems like a safe alternative. Everything seemed like a safe alternative. Hell, powder cocaine was a safe alternative to smoking crack.
When I think back to 2002 it’s difficult to admit many of these moments and thoughts but the anthropology of my addiction is fascinating to me. The way that the relationship with cocaine and alcohol resembles a bell curve with their tales ending together, but how do I even think that way? Thinking of Bell curves? Education… going to the University of Houston, so is education the missing variable? No, I was exposed to education as a young man at the appropriate college age… maybe the missing variable is time, experience, but thinking back I’m still glad that I left Austin when I did. I couldn’t escape my problems or run away but I was able to breathe a little easier once my nerves began to settle, but that took a while. Man-Boobs and I had been in Ocean Beach for 12-14 hours or so already I guess and I had already had a panic attack, thinking I was having a mini mental breakdown, in the middle of our new apartment, which wasn’t really an apartment like the advertisement had described it to be. No, this wasn’t a one bedroom… it was one-room, and it wasn’t technically an apartment since they had weekly rates instead of monthly rates… and the neighbors weren’t so much neighbors as they were just out of jail or waiting to score some tweek from next door.
I had been running away from trouble and when we moved into Ocean Beach, I was about to move next to the last fucking thing I needed to be close to.