Signs

I got a new phone a couple of weeks ago, did I mention that? How thoughtless of me if not. My apologies for not bringing up this life-changing event.

It’s an iPhone 8-Plus, which has the fancy camera lenses and has now, apparently, become the best camera I own (I’ve got an entry-level Canon DSLR, nothing special, now feels bulky and annoying). I’ve been taking a lot of pictures, anyway. Nothing remarkable so far, although I took the below the other day, just testing the lighting capabilities.

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As I said on Instagram, it’s hard to accept that I was only testing, taking a random shot, and it’s now going to be the coolest picture I’ll ever take.

At any rate, phones have lost their luster (although this one is actually kind of lustrous), apparently. I got a moment of excitement when I held this shiny thing, which passed and became routine. We’ve all got phones now.

And you know what I like the best about this phone? The accessibility features. It seems I’m just not as dexterous as I once was, and I need a little help doing things like turning the phone off. Go figure.

Mary Karr, a writer whose work I admire and whom I’ve been following on social media for the same reasons I follow other celebrities (she doesn’t bother me, or post enough to bother me), is having an interesting Monday.

She’s postulating about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide, pointing out that she could no longer watch his show after a certain point, aware of his heroin history and watching him “drink like a fish” and get hammered on film. It bothered her.

I didn’t know Bourdain’s work well enough to have an opinion, although I noted this also. Anyone who’s in recovery for some sort of chemical dependency recognizes the danger of cross-addiction, and understands that certain drugs have correlates (there’s a better word, but I can’t think of it; help me out if you wish).

That is, there are basically three types of psychoactive chemicals that we ingest for recreational and/or medicinal reasons—stimulants, depressants, and psychedelics (used to be called hallucinogens, but some of these don’t really cause hallucinations). A recovering cocaine (stimulant) addict, for example, might decide at some point that she just wants a margarita (depressant), and she might get away with it. We’re complicated biological, sociological, neurological, and psychological creatures, not cookie-cut beings. I know plenty of people like this. They have drugs of choice, and often indifference to others.

But a heroin addict who drinks alcohol is just switching brands. The effect is experientially different but pharmacologically similar—they’re both CNS depressants. If anything, booze is just slower, less effective, and more socially acceptable. But the danger is obvious if you’re looking for it.

So I get the concern, although that doesn’t help Bourdain one bit. As I say, I don’t know enough to have an opinion, other than it’s something to be considered, if we’re in the mood to consider the passing of someone most of us didn’t know.

I was just a drunk, by the way. Booze fit the bill and became what I needed, or thought I needed. I’m aware that I run the risk of compulsive behavior when it comes to all sorts of things, and that would include the depressant category of chemicals, although that hasn’t happened and I see no sign. I’m too chicken to be interested in illegal drugs anyway, and too old.

And I’m not going to drink again, I suspect. I’m always on guard, and take nothing for granted, but I haven’t had a drink in a dozen years and I’ve just forgotten now. It could happen, and never say never, but that’s pretty low on things for me to worry about.

There are plenty of other things. It took me months to understand what the old-timers at the 12-step meetings were saying, that drinking was a symptom of something else, but I got it eventually. There’s a hole in my soul, an existential emptiness that, I guess, just happens to some people and not others. I have to stay engaged with life and be social, watch for habits gestating out of sight, ready to hatch when I’m least prepared to deal with their effects. I have to be very careful. I just don’t worry as much anymore about taking a drink.

On my recent trip, and after returning, I’ve had a couple of comments about my appearance. The word “gaunt” has been tossed around, and I see that. I’ve dropped a couple of pounds but not enough to be noticeable, just a rounding error really, but I seem to be dropping fat, or at least the numbers on my scale are going down (one of those that shoots a low current through your bare feet, conducted through water and bouncing off of fat). I don’t know what this is about other than I’m eating a better diet.

I am, too. I realized just the other days that several days every week are meatless for me, not at all on purpose. I get at least 7-8 servings of greens and berries every day, even if I drink most of them in smoothies, and I’ve increased my exercise but don’t go overboard. I’ve noticed that as that fat percentage seems to be decreasing, my weight is slowly ticking back up, still on the lean side but getting back to where it’s been sitting for the past three years, and I feel fantastic.

Absolutely fantastic. Healthy, energetic, dissatisfied a bit regarding details but generally content with life. I worry about all sorts of things, and again, eternal vigilance and all that, but I feel pretty good.

I just look gaunt, apparently, although this is mostly my face. I can see it. I know what they mean.

But they don’t know what they think they know, and this enlightens me today, because we never will know. Mary Karr doesn’t know. Maybe Anthony Bourdain didn’t, either.

I just know about me, and I’m OK at the moment. This is just the way my face looks. I guess you can be upset about that, but I can’t really work up the energy to care all that much.

Chuck SigarsComment