This is a commentary about the slow lane, about the slowing of time since I suffered a severe brain injury while skateboarding with my dog. This is a blog about recovery; about our '82 VW Westfalia. It's about writing, surfing, camping, married life, bleeding ulcers that make you feel old at 32; about family, friends, and my dog Artie; it's about cruising in fourth gear, getting passed by every car and learning to appreciate every second of it.
An old friend recently bought a Westy-- goes to show he hasn't been reading this blog...thanks, friend!
Anyway, he bought a Westy and is installing a new car stereo. I said I would give him some advice, as I just replaced the stereo in ours. He came over and before he started on the install, he wanted to show me how to work the Westy's fridge by using propane. I was pretty excited. I had heard this was impossible.
So, I stepped into the van and he went around to the side of it, turning the propane tank on. I heard a hiss. Propane was flowing.
"Does it usually sound like that?" He asked.
"Yeah, no problem."
"Does it usually smell like this?" He asked shutting the valve.
"Smell? Uh, I'm not sure."
After a bit of discussion, it turns out that propane is leaking from the valve, and has been since we've had it. That means, that all this time, all these camping trips, propane has been seeping out into our campsite and I had no clue. No idea that I could have been the spark that ignited, not only the van, Artie, and Aimee, but potentially set fire to hundreds of acres.
I went in and told Aimee about the smell. I told her about the hissing sound. She said she always smelled propane but thought nothing of it.
Thanks, love, for keeping me one-step, one lighter-strike, from death's door!
I drove down to Rosarito for the day to interview some residents for a story I am writing about the "false perception" that so many in the states have regarding their southerly neighbors.
I have to say I was a bit nervous going and I'm not sure why. It's like that perception of drug cartel violence has infiltrated everyone's mind and played on everyone's fear. I took all the precautions; left my credit cards here, and only took a small amount of cash. On the way down I actually rehearsed, silently, what I would do if I was kidnapped. Of course, the intense emotional state always has me drumming up the worse possible scenario.
But, the reality is so different, at least today it was. Sure there's a few sketchy dudes walking the streets of Tijuana, and sure you see some run-down shacks and potholes. It's nothing you wouldn't see in a rough part of town here.
Most of all I feel good about my trip. It was probably the biggest solo trip I have taken in the past two years. I even managed to sleep the night before. My condition has improved.
Is the restlessness associated with coming off of an anti-depressant immediate? Does it creep up on you a couple of weeks after?
These are my questions since going three consecutive nights with little to no sleep. I'm not sure if it's severe internal restlessness or just a heavy dose of stress but whatever it is it's making me so uncomfortable that I need to pop Ambien to fall asleep.
The sleep deprivation is new. In the past two weeks, since quitting anti-depressants, I have felt better. Rage, and irritability are still present. And, I obsess over some tasks. But, my mood is better. I'm up. I feel with it. I am able to laugh longer than a split second. I am happy to be off the pill. But, of course, there has to be something else.
Today, I interviewed the two guys from Spike Television show, Auction Hunters. They were in San Diego and invited the media to join them at an auction. Outside of Midtown-Mini San Diego Storage facilities, the auctioneer told the two reality-stars that they would not be allowed on-site.
So, Allen Haff and "Ton" Jones decided to give an interview at a nearby Jamba Juice and show some of the goods they found at other auctions in San Diego.
There we stood in the parking lot of Jamba Juice in Hillcrest, Haff and Ton Jones digging out antique fire-extinguishers, and vintage World War II gun holsters. As they did, I asked how they know whether a storage has any valuable items.
"Do you remember that smell you got from your grandmother's house?" Haff asked. AS he he did I unconsciously shook my head, thinking about my now-deceased grandmother and my dead sense of smell.
"Well, it smells like that. A lot of times it's the smell of old antiques. We use all of our senses."
I guess any chance I had at becoming an auction hunter is gone for good.
Aimee threw her back out the other day. She's been on the couch ever since. And, of course I'm always ready to quit for the day no matter how early it is, so yesterday was a "chill day."
We watched a documentary on obesity called "Fat, sick, and Nearly Dead." The documentary followed this one dude around who was obese and decided to only drink fruit and veggie juice everyday for 60 days. While watching the flick, it hit me; I don't taste but I still eat like shit, for example extra extra ranch dressing on my salads, a bag full of Doritos with lunch, and so on.
Halfway through the doc, Aimee and I thought we'd give it a try, not fasting but juicing twice a day. We went on Craigslist and found a high-powered Breville juicer for $75. After, we went to Henry's and bought bunches of Kale, some apples, beets, lemon, and spinach.
The juicing started today. For breakfast we had the kale, celery, apples, and lemon. I'm not sure why I was surprised because I can't taste anything but it was better than I had thought it would be.
So, now when people ask if my eating habits have changed since losing my sense of taste I can tell them that it has.
My new favorite word is "akathasia." It means "severe internal restlessness."
Do you ever watch those pharmaceutical commercials when they start listing the side affects. Most of the side affects are worse than the damn condition. Well, this is the list of possible symptoms while withdrawing from Wellbutrin. It's pretty damn funny, in a sad, anxious, nervous, and constipated way.
What is funny about it is usually you don't have one or the other, sometimes it can be both. Take the old diarrhea and constipation combo. Such a great combo. One day you're complaining that you have a stomach full of shit and the next you are scared you may have an attack while walking the dog. In that case neighbors see you speed-walking through the neighborhood, with butt-cheeks clenched.
Another funny aspect of this; many of these symptoms are the same symptoms I have from the injury: agression, concentration impairment, dizziness, crying spells, fatigue, irritability, and troubling thoughts--to name a few. This is why I want off. This is why I am curious.
Sorry if this post is full of frustration. For some reason I am so irritable and full of akathasia today.
Yesterday I got into it with our landlord. He said he was "aggravated" with me because I wanted to push our appointment, to photograph one of his units for free, an hour later. I told him I was busy. He told me he was aggravated. I said fuck-it, never mind.
For the next two hours all I could do was think of him. My jaw and fists clenched, I punched a wall. On my way to our meeting I listened to The Thermals new album at a deafening level. I pulled up and sat in the car until the song ended. My teeth still clenched. I walked up to the apartment and didn't say more than a few words. He was trying to brush it off. I couldn't let it go. I snapped the photos and walked out.
After, on my way back to the car. His wife came up to me and asked if everything was all right. She said something and the next thing I know a few tears run down my cheeks.
This is my emotional state. It's an embarrassing state to be in.
It's now day two off the anti-depressants and I saw glimpses of behaviors that I don't want to see. The day started off good. We parked the van at the beach in Cardiff, ate a breakfast burrito, worked, and then I surfed for a bit. Things were good.
On the way home, things started changing for the worse. While driving I became impatient, hanging my head outside of the van yelling at people that were following too close, almost like I forgot that I was driving a 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon during rush hour in Southern California, on the fourth of July weekend..
Aimee had to check out a site for a photo shoot and while waiting I grew irritable and impatient. Alone in the van, I would have little fits. They fits came in one-minute intervals and lasted only a few seconds. Artie kept his distance in the back of the van. He knows what can happen when the impatience and frustration comes on, poor dog.
This is how I am when hungry and tired, and hot. One thing the anti--depressants were good at was masking that frustration and irritability. If the rage isn't quelled then soon I will be running back to the pharmacy.