The Search for Love in Manhattan A gay odyssey of neurosis
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
One of the results of the many imbalances in my brain chemicals is that I have an anxiety-spectrum disorder that seems to land somewhere between generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. My history with medication is long and complicated, so there's no need to offer me advice unless you are comfortable using terms like tachyphylaxis in conversation.
The thing is, there seems to be anecdotal support for the idea that shrooms have significantly helped people with OCD--enough anecdotal support, in fact, that the FDA has approved a study testing the effectiveness of sub-hallucinogenic doses of psilocybin as a treatment for OCD. The more I read about this, the more interested I became in trying it, although I have never ingested a substance stronger than alcohol, and the last time I did that was about six years ago (with one recent exception, which I'll blog about before too long). I approached several friends who seemed like they might know where to get shrooms, but in the end none of them came through.
So I'm growing them myself.
Back in October, I went online and ordered a mushroom grow bag and some psilocybin spores. They arrived along with a slide suitable for examination under a microscope; naturally, the company was selling the spores for research purposes only, as they would never support an illegal activity like growing shrooms from spores. I injected the spores into the grow bag, as instructed, and placed them in a cool, dark place (my closet). I checked on them every few days and the bag looked like what the web site said it ought to (if one were involved in an illegal activity like growing shrooms from spores, which of course no one who bought spores from this web site would be), so I looked forward to a day sooner or later when I might both have my first experience with hallucinogenic drugs and feel like a normal person for the first time in years.
The problem, of course, is that this was all happening during the time my apartment was infested by mice. I could give you an extended buildup.
But the long and the short of it is that the mice gnawed through the bag and ate my shrooms.
And, really, what else is there to say? I imagine the mice had a great time tripping, and perhaps it was this experience that led them finally to abandon my apartment for greener or more fungal pastures. I recently decided to try again; there's another batch of shrooms growing in my closet, but I'm wondering if I shouldn't take what happened the first time as a sign that I should just leave well enough alone and continue to live in fear and dread.
Okay, so here's the deal: you know when a friend calls you and you don't call her back for a few days and then you go to call her back and you feel so guilty about not calling her back that you decide you'll just wait another day and then all of a sudden it's been forever and you haven't blogged whoops I mean called, and even thinking about sitting down to type whoops I mean picking up the phone paralyzes you, and also your anxiety disorder is raging out of control and doing its level best to ruin your relationship with your boyfriend, oh and your upstairs neighbor is, I swear to God, a professional whistler, and the floor/ceiling between your two apartments is about a quarter as thick as it ought to be, so you can never concentrate because he's always fucking practicing, including right now, and you haven't slept more than six hours a night for the last two months?
That's my explanation for the sparse posting of late. I promise I'm not giving up. It's just slightly rough going at the moment, especially for the last three minutes, as the whistler has been practicing "Un bel dì" from Madama Butterfly.
E.S.'s mother's birthday was delightful. It was just her, her husband, E.S., me, and my dog A.; after we took A. on a long and undoubtedly baffling walk through the woods behind the house, we all piled in the car and went to a steakhouse for lunch, where I had something called a chocolate bomb for dessert. It was delicious.
In other news, I've lost count of the number of times over the past week that I've almost told E.S. I loved him but luckily managed to stop myself in time.
If you are going to be in New York next weekend, you should come to my show, Blood and Other Humours, with music by me and book and lyrics by my brilliant collaborator L.N. (as opposed to my other brilliant collaborator N.F.). The show is being produced by the NYU Department of Vocal Performance with three terrific actors.
Performances are at the Provincetown Playhouse, 133 MacDougal Street (between 3rd and 4th), Thursday the 25th at 8:00, Friday the 26th at 8:00, Saturday the 27th at 3:00 and 8:00, and Sunday the 28th at 3:00.
If you want to come, call 212.998.5281 to get a $10 ticket ($5 with NYU ID). If you want to come but can't swing the ticket price, e-mail me and I'll see what I can do.
I should clarify, by the way, that the attack of generalized fear and panic and self-loathing I referred to two days ago lasted about an afternoon, and now I'm over it. In fact, in my saner hours (which are in the majority most times) I understand exactly why he's with me: I'm fabulous.
But it's good to know E.S. recognizes that fact in moments when I can't, and responds brilliantly.
One of the most important features of my apartment is that there is a Vitamin Shoppe across the street. Since I have body image issues like nobody's business, it is vital to me that I have ready access to a source of protein bars, loathsome sugar-free chocolate, and the like.
More than its proximity, however, what makes this Vitamin Shoppe so attractive is that the assistant manager has a big crush on me. He knows I have a boyfriend, and besides, though he's cute as a button, he isn't really my type, so it's not so much the romantic potential that makes this so wonderful.
No, it's the fact that he gives me free stuff whenever I buy anything.
When I arrive home after making purchases, I always find an extra or three of whatever it is that I've bought. Or I'll look at the receipt and realize he's given me a huge discount. At the end of last year, he manipulated my member account so that it seemed as if I'd bought a great deal more than I actually had during the year; this led to my receiving a certificate for $290 worth of goods (instead of the $50 or so to which I was entitled).
As you can imagine, I understand fully the value of this treasure. However, a few months ago I made the mistake of telling E.S. about it, and he instantly got jealous. He knew that the assistant manager of the Vitamin Shoppe was no threat to him; nevertheless, it clearly rankled.
So yesterday, after I suggested going to the Vitamin Shoppe to get some loathsome sugar-free chocolate and E.S. said something about seeing my boyfriend while I was there, I decided to put his concerns to rest and show him that he had nothing to worry about. The assistant manager already knew I had a boyfriend, so I figured no harm would be done.
Oh, how wrong I was.
As soon as we walked in the door, the assistant manager's face darkened to the emotional shade of a tsunami. The glare he threw at E.S. would have killed a lab rat or possibly a guinea pig; I'm surprised, in fact, that the digestive enzymes on the shelf behind him didn't burst unaided into flames. The "hi" he spit at me brought the temperature of the room down to about 0 Kelvin, and, as E.S. pointed out afterwards, if he could have peed on the loathsome sugar-free chocolate we bought before handing it to us, he would have. E.S. and I left, thankful to have escaped unscathed.
But now I have a big problem.
It's not so much that the encounter itself unnerved me, though it did, at least slightly.
It's just that I'm clearly never going to get free stuff from the Vitamin Shoppe ever again.
It is I, Faustus. I have "finished" the show I was writing that opens in three weeks. ("Finished" is in quotes because it's a lie.) However, I couldn't let David solidify his position in my empire any further, so I figured it was time to come back.
Last night, for reasons passing understanding, my Tivo failed to record Angel. After troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries (though if heaven is deaf, I suppose it doesn't really matter whether one's cries are bootful or not), I sat on the couch, defeated, watching Law & Order with my brother's girlfriend L.G. During a commercial break we had the following conversation.
L.G.: Are you coming down from your rage?
FAUSTUS: It's more like sinking into a pit of despair.
This is David. I am still here. Actually, I am not still here, but I am here enough.
Today, I got into a conversation with a man who was concerned about the widespread problem of hooligans stealing metal objects from public places and selling them for scrap. Trash bins, owl roosts, street signs: nothing is safe. Also, someone in his dorm stole a headstone from a graveyard once.
I sat there and made clucking noises he may have interpreted as disgust that people would do such things, but I was really thinking about going to pick up my new eyeglasses, which I promptly did.
Hey, everyone, I got new eyeglasses!
I hope no one steals them and sells them for scrap.
David here still. I am not actually certain for how long I agreed to do this, but I am getting comfortable, so Faustus may have to pry me out with a crowbar.
Today, I did the unthinkable. Note that what I consider unthinkable may not run parallel to the opinions of the rest of the world, for my transgression was to sneak away from my work and down to Starbucks to read a couple of chapters of a novel and consume a chocolate chunk cookie.
My hideously long to-do list and the South Beach Diet have conspired to transform an event that was once commonplace in my life into a guilty pleasure.
Anyway, I did not begin this story to berate myself (too much). I wanted to mention something I saw.
As I sat reading, one of those middle-aged couples that could only exist in New York City came in. You know the sort: they looked like they had just escaped either from a Star Trek convention or a mental institution, sort of funny-looking and not all there. The thing was, they were so deliriously happy, I could not help but observe them.
“Let’s sit here,” said the man, who had the face of Woody Allen and the hair of the Unibomber.
“I’ll go order,” said the woman. Her smile lit up the room and transformed her polyester pantsuit into high fashion. She returned shortly with a small cup (nonsensically called “tall) and a piece of cake. “It was three ninety-five,” she reported. “Can you believe it? They didn’t charge tax!” She sounded as if she had won the lottery.
I got the idea that money was a problem for them because they talked about how much more expensive the next-larger cup was, but the two shared the small portions with enthusiasm. They were still there, staring into each other’s eyes, when I left.
I do not know why I am reporting this . . . it is not my intention to treat them as zoo animals and marvel that two such bizarre creatures have found love. Ordinarily, I would probably have chosen to write about the wild-eyed woman at a nearby table who was screaming into her cell phone about a bris she did not want to attend.
I suppose it was just nice, as I stole a forbidden moment for myself, to see other people so happy.
It is still I, David, proprietor of Upside-down Hippopotamus. The Upside-down Hippopotamus that is currently squatting over The Search for Love in Manhattan. I am not sure one can squat while one is upside-down, but the hippopotamus part provides for delectable imagery. Faustus is still off doing whatever it is he does, and although I cannot hope to fill but one of his shoes (and perhaps a mitten), I shall labor to keep his place alive and kicking.
And perhaps I will even turn it over to him when he comes back.
Yesterday, I wrote about a new computer game I have bought: Lux. Though an avalanche of work hangs over my head like the Sword of Damocles (put those metaphors in a blender and hit puree!), I have devoted a significant amount of time over the past two days to playing with people over the Internet.
The problem is that I suck at it, or at least, I am on an extended learning curve. But I am getting better, and it is actually teaching me a lot about my real life. In Lux (which is almost identical to Risk, if you are familiar with that war game), the results of one’s typical strategies are immediately evident and delivered with a pyrotechnic fanfare. Do you hold back too much? Are you too aggressive? Do you risk everything on unlikely gambits? Do you too self-centered, acting for your own benefit without thought of how it will effect others? All of these tactics will spell your doom in the martial scenarios of Lux, as well as (in an admittedly more subtle manner) in the wider game of life.
Today, I played a few rounds with someone who repeatedly informed me of what a bad player I am. The interesting thing was, I outlasted him by far in every game, occasionally wiping his remaining armies off the map myself.
My haphazard playing style may mirror my chaotic approach to living, but I usually do pretty well. And at least I am not a poor loser.
Greetings, my little chickadees. It is I, David, the deposed blog emperor of The Search for Love in Manhattan, who never stopped scheming and plotting a triumphant return from exile. As usual, you are all commanded to visit (and link to) my own web log, Upside-down Hippopotamus. Or else.
Oh yes, or else.
The topic of the day is, appropriately, war. It is everywhere: hostilities in the Middle East are far from over, Haiti is a nightmare, and the upcoming elections promise to be a bloodbath of figurative but epic proportions.
On the homefront, I have not only taken over Faustus’s site in a diabolical coup d’etat, I have recently downloaded a new strategy game from the Internet. The object of Lux is to take over the world, and the joy of it is that one might play over a network with other people. Naturally, it being somehow more satisfying to kick human ass than computer, I have spent every free moment at this pursuit.
It must be something in the air, as I am not normally so martial. I must admit, however, that there is something seductive about it. I cannot imagine I would become quite so involved in a game that simulates the sculpting of topiaries or petting the heads of fluffy bunnies.
When I was six, I picketed my house, hoping to be allowed to eat breakfast before getting dressed rather than after.
I marched back and forth in front of our front door, carrying a sign that said "BREKFAST FIRST DRESSED LATER."
My parents, being civil rights workers, didn't cross picket lines, and that was the only way into or out of our house,
so they were trapped there until they acceded to my demand.