pixiv: recurrence

anonymous asked:

Are you still writing recurrence?

i am!! good timing on this ask actually because i’m nearly done with the next chapter, so that should get posted either tonight or tomorrow – i’m sorry it’s taken so long to update and so, so grateful to the people who are still reading

Letters from the Depths of Solitude. Seventy-Second. On Ending

I remember when I parted with a love of my life–I had too many lives–in tears, I was hoping that some day, after the world had revolted around its axis one thousand and one more time, after the galaxy had committed all those immensely great ellipses, we would meet again, and then, finally, having grown out of our skin and acquired new bodies, we would love each other, as we should have had–tenderly, with a sad passion, never letting one another to fall into despair or cruelty.

What a silly idea. Once you part, you part, and nothing would amend anything. Neitzsche–and that was a man, let me remind you, who invented “eternal return,” or inexhaustible recurrence–wrote: “Parhaps we shall never see each other again; perhaps we shall meet again but fail to recognize each other: our exposure to different seas and suns has changed us.” (Quoted by Bathers, 2002, 233).

I do think that the minute you stopped loving, you never loved–a peculiar inversion of the presence which seizes the past. The new event does not only change the future, but also transforms what had been, redefines it indefatigably, with every new second of unfolding.

(Written on the margins of a book running to its end.)

The Eternal Return is basically the theory that there is infinite time and a finite number of events, and eventually the events will recur again and again infinitely. Consider the world as a super-complex chess game. If games of chess are played one after another forever, eventually a game will be repeated since there is only a finite number of possible games. It is the same with the world; eventually events will recur in the same order. The world is an eternal process of coming to be and passing away. The process, however, has no beginning or end. Eventually every combination of matter and energy will be realized and repeated an infinite number of times.
Recurrence Relations

How to solve them?

There are several techniques to unwrap a recurrence relation and obtain a closed form that is easy to solve. Some of these techniques include:

  1. Substitution method
  2. Recursion-Tree method
  3. Master method

1. Substitution method:

  • Guess the form of the solution. (the difficult step)
  • Show that the solution works by using mathematical induction.

Perhaps one of the most useful ways that help us find a good guess is looking at the first few terms of the recurrence. Then we can begin to see a pattern, from which we can guess the form of a solution. Then the solution is tested and proved to be correct using mathematical induction.

2. Recursion-Tree method:

  • Helps to come up with a good guess for the substitution method.
  • Useful for recurrences describing the running time of a divide-and-conquer algorithm.
  • Each node in a Recursion-Tree represents the cost of a single subproblem.

3. Master method:

Very useful for Recurrences of the form: T(n) = aT(n/b) + f(n).

  • Split the problem into a subproblems each of size n/b.
  • Subproblems are solved recursively, each in time T(n/b).
  • Dividing problem and combining solutions of subproblems is captured by f(n).

The trailer for Recurrence!!!

Scene From A Marriage: Bobby's Plight

“I’m afraid of dying.”

She moves over to me and rubs my bald head, bald from the intensive, 21-day experimental treatment I’ve undergone to try and choke my deathless cancer.

“I don’t know when I got to be so afraid again, but here I am.”

“Things have changed, right? I mean, things have changed. Our life is going to change.” She holds me at the edge of my side of the bed, the light from the bed side table glows orange, aggressive but only for its own corner, the rest of the room is sunk in shadow. As she holds me I can feel her belly now nine months along. Sometimes if I stare long enough at it I can watch the little one’s butt move from one side to the other seeking room and comfort. “Everything is going to change.” She tells me very softly and very gently. Recently I’ve imparted this fear of dying so much that I think she’s sick of it, sick of answering for it, that it makes me so tired.

I don’t look at her as she holds me and tells me this. I have my eyes closed. We rock gently there in the open, almost vulgar, glare of the light. It’s like the world could see us. 

“I swear. I wish I didn’t always feel this way.” 

“I know. I know.” 

All of a sudden I remember when I’d try to tell my old students, when I used to teach, how hard it is to impart real “Love” because of how awesome is the failure of language to do what it’s supposed to do. “‘For example,’ I’d tell them. ‘Take Bobby here. He might want to tell his girlfriend how much he loves her.’ [class laughs – Bobby turns red]. ‘So, Bobby here, he tells her one day, ‘I love you;’ and what do you know, his girl says, ‘I love you’ back. She tells him, ‘I love you, too, Bobby.’ But here’s the hitch: Bobby might hear something in her voice, some little thing in the way she said it, and he might wonder, ‘Hey, does her Love mean my Love. Is her ‘I love you’ my ‘I love you’? [my voice trails off] [and to no one in particular, I say] Bobby’s question is a good one.” 

I feel Bobby’s plight with language now because I wonder deep down if my wife does “know” I wasn’t always so scared of something I’ve no control over; but something’s cracked in me. 

Earlier, the radioman said that there were great summer storms coming our way. He said, “Y’all in it’s path.” The storm is coming on strong now. There’s sideways rain and big chunks of hail. The lights are dimming. The thunder is loud. The lightening is bright. It’s getting violent, like the earth is readying for something we can’t understand. It’s all so incomprehensible. 

As the lights flicker, she asks, “You know I know, right?” 

Ebb and Flow: Part One

In the great applauseless, 3 a.m., early gray of suburban Maryland, there’s just the steady drone of the streetlights outside my hotel window. I’m only an hour ahead in time zone but I feel miles and hours away from home and Emily, who has stayed behind because she can’t fly because the baby will be here soon. A weird disconnect crawls across my body and gives me a chill. I shiver in the gray light, my bald head cold. I’m just awake. It was sudden and there was nothing to do about it. Eyes open. Body ready. “Fuck,” I told myself. I looked at my phone to see the time, and I asked, “Seriously?” to whoever was listening.

From my tenth floor window I see a small BP station going full glare and an ugly row of strip mall that rises three levels and cancels out, just barely, the pretty little white houses just beyond it. The strip mall is all air-conditioning units on its roofs from my position, but I can see parts of the doors where the white lettering of what each place does or sells, for example: “Wigs,” “Nails,” or “Tan.” Out in the distance the horizon blooms, like smoke furrowing up out of a volcano, because of what seems like a rolling explosion of hundreds of green trees. Sometimes between them one can see the steeples of churches or the tallest peaks of large homes somewhere in the gloaming. I think about pulling the shades open but cannot for some reason, so I stand there in my underwear, a blanket wrapped around my shoulders staring through the crack in the shades I’ve made, just enough for my face. 

The air-conditioning unit at my knees hums. It’s very cold, blowing cold air up my crotch and dripping onto the carpet, the floor damp at my feet. 

There are very few cars on the street, cabbies working late shifts, driving aimlessly through Bethesda to D.C., on Wisconsin Ave and back again, waiting for the sun to come up in their forlorn cars, windows rolled down because the place is like a swamp with the humidity already, even at 3 a.m. I can feel it at the window. Other than the drone of the streetlights, it’s a vast nothing. Like before the world came into being, some sense I have of otherworldliness that keeps me there watching and waiting. The room behind me is black. Like if I were to close the shades in front of me I’d be made dumb by dark; and so I wait like this. I think I’ll wait out the sun, which will come up on the other side of the building and send wonderful rays of pink light all across the early morning gray and then the sun will do its job and burn off the dopey gray that sits on us. I know I won’t make it because it’ll be at least another hour or more, and so I close the blinds and let myself fall back into what I perceive to be total darkness. 

The day before I had tests all day at the National Institutes of Health. I had a 7:00 a.m. flight to Reagan National delayed out of O’Hare, and so I had to catch the very next flight out to make my appointments on time. When I finally found a cab at Reagan, I found myself with a cabbie who proceeded, after he asked me what my business in town was, to tell me every one of his family members who had cancer. It was a very long list – they were an unlucky lot – but there it was, everyone he’d known with too many cancer cells. He told me, “These were all very strong men, you see. Bulls, you must know. Bulls. All of them.” 

I couldn’t totally understand him because his accent was thick – a still uneasy mix of American English and Arabic. At times his language was hard and others it was free and flowed like a great river. He was from some war-torn African country and had come here as a 19 year-old, I’d found out without asking, six years ago and had never left the area. He’d found a very good living driving cabs. “All of us. My uncle, My great uncle, my cousins. We make modest living,” he told me. 

Anyway, he went on about cancer, “These men went through – how you say – chemotherapy?”

“Yes,” I told him. “You’re right. Chemotherapy.”

“Yes. Yes. These men lost all of their hair,” he told me as he re-adjusted his rearview mirror so that his line of sight was just me and not the road behind us. Occasionally he looked at the road, but it was mostly he and I. All the windows of the cab were rolled down to the max and he was yelling. The Potomac passed smoothly to the right as we rode up the George Washington Memorial Parkway and through what felt like a swamp land northwest of National Airport. I saw Jefferson, Washington, and Lincoln’s memorials. 

“So, all of them,” he yelled. “They lose their hair.”

I shook my head. I raised my hat to show him my baldness.

“Yes. Yes,” he yelled and pointed at my head. Then, “They get very sick, but they come out of it and live.”

“That’s great,” I told him, terrified to go through more rounds of tests, terrified there’d be new cancer everywhere. Like right then I was a dead man talking.

“What?” The wind whipped through the whole cab, shaking the car nearly out of our lane.

Louder, “Great. Great they lived. Good for them.”

“You know how this happened, yes?” He looked at me in the mirror. He had turned very serious. The whole mood in the car had changed all of a sudden.

“The medicine?”

He waved his hand away like my answer was a mosquito. He grew very animated. He turned around to tell me, “Ok. Three things. Eat well. Right action. Prayer. This is how they beat the cancer. It is the three things. It is so very easy to get caught up in what doctor’s say, their – how do you say? – I don’t know – what they tell you you have, how many months you have to live and on and on. But who are these men? Where do they come from, and how did they get here to you with such news? Who has sent them? They are not God.” He checked his mirrors and looked through the windshield then turned to me.

“I know it. I hear you,” I yelled. “They are not God.” I shook my head yes.

As we rolled on, in what seemed like a great easterly curve up and down hills, and deeper into what seemed like a jungle, the humidity choked me. I took off my sweatshirt that I wore on the plane to avoid the air-conditioning. 

“You want air? I put on air.”

“No. No. This is fabulous.”

Out of nowhere, “So, you are Christian, right?”


“Christian, yes?”

“I suppose.”


“Long story.”

“What?” he yelled at me.

“Baptized Catholic. But not Catholic anymore. Disagree. Long story.”

He looked at me sadly. “Then what? What are you? What do you pray?”

I tell him, “Listen, man. My wife, she’s Presbyterian. I do what she does. I like that church. It’s more liberal. It makes more sense to me.”

“Sense? What does this mean? What does this mean, liberal?”

The gray was being pushed out, and the sun was coming out. It was getting very hot. He was barely driving the car now. Somehow we were in and out of turns and moving forward. We were in the far right lane, maybe doing 50 miles an hour. Cars passed us and honked. Someone gave us the finger. 

“I’m a little late for some tests,” I told him. “We need to go faster.”

“Traffic.” He waved his hand in the air.

“I don’t see any traffic.” The road was clear. At times we were the only ones on the road.

“What do you mean, liberal?” He asked again.

Fuck me. In an hour I’ll be sitting in some phlebotomist’s office getting massive amounts of blood drawn. A half-hour later I’ll be drinking a bitter, salty contrast drink for a CT scan, which, if you don’t know, is a test where they put you half naked on a board and then run you through what is essentially a large mechanical donut hole that takes radioactive pictures of your insides. They’ll shoot me up with IV iodine about halfway through the test, which will make me feel like I’ve pissed my pants and make my mouth feel like I’ve got a sack full of nickels in it. After that I’ve got to get a brain MRI, which is the real hell. They’ll lay me down again on some board and give me ear plugs. Then they put on those noise reduction headphones that airport workers wear to guard against the jet engines. They lay me back and then slide a steel mask over my face like we’re in the 11th century and I’m a heretic and some kind of imaginative torture is going to punish me and cleanse me of my sin. They push me into a deep tube, only about as big as the circumference of my own body. That’s when the pounding sounds and the high-pitched noises, like feedback from a Jimi Hendrix song, begin. It’s almost so intense in the forty-five minutes I’m forced to endure that I want to scream, “Get me the fuck out of here you masochistic bastards!” It’s enough to try, in those first forty-five minutes, to wiggle out and find the tech and kick his ass up and down the hallway screaming the whole time, changing pitch and tone, some feral scream, as I beat his brains in looking for some kind of impact, some kind of containment for the craziness that’s taking hold quickly. This all happens just as you hear a very far away but nonetheless sane static, which sounds like a human voice say, “Only ten more minutes, Mr. Torch. You’re looking good. We’re headed home.” You laugh. You close your eyes to get through the rest. 

And now I had a cabbie who wanted to go theological with me. I told him finally because he wouldn’t let up, “Like, for example, I’m not a fan of the ban on gay marriage or their views on homosexuality. It’s bigger than that, but let’s count that as one reason. How’s that?”

I’ll spare you the details, but he ran me through the logic of the Old Testament, God’s Law (“man should not kill other men and lay with another man’s woman, yes?”) and Jesus as Messiah, and how the Bible forbids man sleeping with man (“It says it. The Bible is Law. If you believe God you must follow God’s Law and God’s Law is the Bible, yes?”). 

“Fuck me,” I think. “Seriously? Now?” The heavens open up outside the windows of the cab and suddenly we are cloudless.

Finally, as we near NIH, I told him, yelling, but not because of the highway, since we’re off of it, but because a whole day of tests is dawning on me, and I’m late, and I’ve got some strange cancer, and I want to kill someone most of the time these last few days, and I don’t want to know the results of the goddamned results, I told the Muslim-born now Born-Again-Catholic, the son of decades of colonial war,  as he circles around looking for the entrance because the place is Federal and so heavily fortified, post 9/11, it seems they’ve hidden the entrance or made it seem like their deal is “We don’t want outsiders here,“ I tell him, “Listen, man, and this is just my opinion, but here me out: I find that there’s no fucking moral equivalence between killing someone, like, you know, ‘thou shalt not kill,’ and some guy wanting to marry another man out of Love. That makes no fucking sense, and it goes against everything I think Jesus probably taught. But I’m no fucking expert.” My guy basically wasn’t driving anymore, and we were in a stare down as the car slowed to some bright orange cones that were blocking our path to the campus. A man with a clipboard and high impact glasses approached our car writing down the cab’s license number. “You know what I mean? We’re going to have to disagree on this one. You got me, captain?”

He stared at me in the mirror. 

In a matter of minutes his whole cab was being searched. Dogs, teams of guys with guns and badges. Very serious men with poles that had mirrors attached to the bottom of them that were being used to look under the car for contraband or bombs or both. My guy had to go inside with a black bag they found in the trunk of his car, and I was like, “Motherfucker.” 

I threw my hands up.  I got out of the car and walked up to one of the search party’s members, a small black guy who was maybe 5’3” with the right pair of sneakers, wearing a bright yellow vest and a dark, foreboding black Federal outfit underneath. He was very wary of me as I walked to him. I had my hands up for some reason like I thought he’d think I was coming heavy, and I told him, “Listen, man, I usually don’t throw this card, but I’m a cancer patient here.” I raised my hat for proof – the bald head again. He looked, made a look, like despair (a family member? A passed friend?). He was deeply uneasy. I told him, hands still up in the air, “I’ve got appointments. I’m late for them now.” I pointed to the window of the room they got my guy in.

“And you want your cabbie. You need him now. You need to get to building ten stat. This is what you’re saying.”

“You got it.”

“Let me see what I can do.” He turned to go into the building.

Moments later my cabbie walked buoyantly out of the room wearing an ear-to ear grin like they had told him the secret of the world in the little, cramped place and the secret is just too chowderheaded not to grin.  

We began our descent and out ultimate ascent to Building Ten where all the machines and the needles and the intensive care units and the cancer wards are. 

“I’m sorry about all that,” I told him. “I didn’t know.”

“None of us know anything, yes? No worries, brother. This is the life.” He moved his hand across his cab but meant everything outside of it. He moved it slowly to really draw out hi point. It was both an epic and sweeping gesture. Every tree, every rock, every person, every park bench, the sun, the powder blue sky. He was blissful. I was confused. Ten minutes earlier we were in full theological debate. I looked at him in the mirror and he looked at me and then back at the road and smiled.  Yes, that’s it, he was full of bliss. I smiled back.

       Together we looked for the signs that said, “Building Ten.” We pointed this way and that. We were traveling evangelists or something. I was leaning forward, having broached the line between the front and back seat. If someone saw us they’d think I was telling him the oracle, I was so close to his ear and he intent on my vision, he blinking and smiling in the pale blue light. We found it together. Building Ten. We saw it high up at the top of the campus.

When we pulled up to the front entrance, he told me, as he ran my credit card, “You remember now. Eat well. Right Action. Prayer. God is All.” He handed me my receipt.

I nodded, tipped my hat like guys in westerns do, grabbed my bags, turned, and walked into the massive revolving door into the innards of NIH, as if sucked in by some Higher Power. It was a day of tests to see what the hell my cancer was doing 28 days to the day after a team of doctors gave me back my modified white blood cells, T-cells made crusaders.

to be continued …


We shall have our little day.
Take my hand and travel still
Round and round the little way,
Up and down the little hill.

It is good to love again;
Scan the renovated skies,
Dip and drive the idling pen,
Sweetly tint the paling lies.

Trace the dripping, pierced heart,
Speak the fair, insistent verse,
Vow to God, and slip apart,
Little better, Little worse.

Would we need not know before
How shall end this prettiness;
One of us must love the more,
One of us shall love the less.

Thus it is, and so it goes;
We shall have our day, my dear.
Where, unwilling, dies the rose
Buds the new, another year. 

likelightinglass  asked:

Regarding the "my deepest condolences" line-I think in a universe where recurrences are considered an extension of the previous incarnation, people regard the death of Seraphi as something that happened to Jupiter. And it's polite to offer condolences on a tragic event in someone's past. But it begs the question-how common do you think recurrences are? Would it be possible to have a second genetic recurrence of Seraphi during Jupiters lifetime? How would that work legally speaking?

That’s a good observation and a perfectly valid reading. The laugh makes me think that there’s something more sinister to the comment, since he’s clearing finding humour in Jupiter’s ignorance (he guffaws after she says an awkward “thank you”). In short, I imagine that he had an idea of what was in store for Jupiter.

Your second question is a very interesting one. I think it’s safe to say that recurrences are deeply unusual - the statistical probability of the same genes recurring in the exact same order in a new body is tiny to the point of non-existence, though that doesn’t mean it’s entirely impossible (as Jupiter’s existence demonstrates). In light of that, there being a second recurrence of Seraphi in Jupiter’s lifetime is pretty much impossible (though you could not definitively say it wouldn’t happen). Let’s remember that it took over 90,000 years for Jupiter to be born and, as far as we know, she’s the first recurrence of Seraphi - in short, many, many generations passed before Seraphi recurred.

As for the legal implications of the same person effectively existing in two separate bodies at the same time, we know nothing. However, it’s interesting to remark that one of the earliest plot synopses for JA had Jupiter being targeted for assassination by the queen of the universe (presumably Seraphi Abrasax). In that early version of the plot, it seems that Jupiter was deemed a threat by Seraphi herself, which raises all sorts of questions. I can only imagine that that version of the film didn’t revolve around inheritance law, since Jupiter couldn’t really inherit anything while Seraphi was still alive!

So many questions! Does anyone have any further thoughts on this? We’re basically delving into headcanon territory, but I’m good with that.

Perhaps, then, one should begin not by thinking about any essence or principle of life, but by thinking about a certain negation of life, a kind of life-after-life in which the “after” is not temporal or sequential, but liminal.

in the dust of this planet, eugene thacker

Someone once told me time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.

rust cohle, true detective

I'm No Preacher

I’m no preacher nor am I a teetotaler, but I know that the fourth step of Alcoholics Anonymous states that after “we’ve admitted to being powerless over alcohol”, and after we came to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, and had made a decision to turn our lives over to It, however we knew It, we should “[begin to make] a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Again, I’m no preacher/teetotaler, but I also know that the tenth step of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us to, after we’d made a list of all those we’d harmed and righted ourselves in a world we’d put off its axis, “[continue] to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

I’m no comedian, but there’s nothing like having cancer to get one over on your sobriety, your doctors, your wife, and your family and friends.

When I was 25 I decided to get clean and sober after a car crash in Yellow Springs, OH (the very small southern Ohio town where I did my B.A.). I quietly pleaded guilty to a DUI, my second in a few years, and I walked across the Xenia, Ohio, courthouse lawn, in shame and in handcuffs, to serve out a quiet 63 day sentence. That was December 4, 2000 (my first full sober day). It was a Monday, I remember. A clear, crisp morning. You could see your breathe it was so cold, and in the midwest, in December it’s a rare thing to see a cloudless sky but, there, by God, it was. The great blue dome of the Heavens above us. I don’t remember snow on the ground, but there must have been by then. I remember someone yelling to those of us being forcibly moved forward by a big burly, corn-fed Sheriff’s Deputy to the stocks, I mean, jails, “Now that’s not a good way to start the week!” I could’ve killed that sonofabitch for such truth-telling, but I couldn’t see him for the sun that day was as bright as I’ve ever done seen it. I don’t even know if I could see the man in front of me my eyes were so blurry with doubt and confusion and fear.

In the end I only spent three, maybe four, boring days in Greene County Jail, but I’d had enough. There were no fights or rape scenes or anything like that, worst that happened was the black guys below me played Uno with such fervor and intensity that every time someone wanted to lay down a Draw Four card, I’d hear (and feel), “Draw Four, Motherfucker!” They must have started up so high, at the top of the bunk, near where my ass was, and just dropped it down with so much anger. Guys were always laughing and saying that shit was “hella fucked up, messing up the pile and shit.” I don’t know, but that was jail for me. I didn’t like not being able to do what I wanted, like for “physical time” we went to another room, walking along a yellow line, and then sat in there for awhile. We were pod 5 and the black guys owned the basketball court, and everyone else just sat and watched or just did their time in that room. The whites, older white guys mostly, some rednecks, they’d disparage the blacks, but if they got wind of it, the black guys, that’d be it. I’d heard about it. We did lose TV privileges one night because the black guys (I was in the black guys section for whatever reason – I mean with a name like “Rafael Torch,” where else was I going to be?) decided to turn on BET and they jammed for about five minutes before the whites staged a near riot and the Sheriff’s Deputy went wild and shut us down. No TV all day and all night. Justice. That feels like an awful long time ago, but it taught me my lesson. I did what others told me to do all day long and was at the mercy of others because I couldn’t control my alcohol. My father, Tom, who’s got close to 30 years sobriety was always telling me, “Listen, it’ll lead you to one of two places: jail or death.” I was, like, 16. What was jail? What was death? I was, like, “Whatever, Tom. Ok, sobriety.” And there I went, headed to jail, not then, but I did end up there. Like I mentioned earlier it wasn’t my first run-in with the law. No matter, I haven’t drank a drop of alcohol since; but, I got to say, my cancer, and I’m no ironist, has made my sobriety pretty complex.

I’ll spare you all the details of the last six months. The bottom line is that I was eating pain pills like they were Pez candy. I’m no James Frey, but man I could wolf down some pills. I was eating probably eight to nine Vicodin at a time, sometimes up to fourteen to fifteen a day. I’d get guilty and try to get it down to ten a day. Sometimes It’d work and sometimes it didn’t. I was in pain, yes, but sometimes no. Mostly no. Sometimes I just ate it because, and this is much more complex than it sounds, it made my life easier. A great lifting of the Spirit came over me because most of my sober time, whatever that is in the midst of a six month bender of pills (Vicodin, Norco, Oxycodone, Oxycotone, Dilaudid, Morphine, You Name It), I was stuck with the feeling of having a pretty serious cancer – I mean five spots, two in each lung and one along my Psoas muscle is pretty fucking serious – or the fact that they couldn’t stop my cancer from growing – it’s what we’d been trying to do since August 2009. I was feeling the pain all right, and, again, I’m no ironist. What if they were going to tell me it’s not stopping? Then I’d have to start making some decisions, I guess.

And I got a kid on the way. Fuck me.

Chomp! Five more Vicodin. Lift of Spirit. Sleep. Wake. Repeat.

I wanted to stop the little gnawing feeling in me that kept saying, “You’re going to die. This is it. They can’t stop your cancer. Can you believe it? This is, this has been, your life. Crazy, right, homie?” I wanted to shut-up that questioning, terrible part of me that was there in me, all the time, like some wild propagandist for the truth of Cancer, yaketty-yakking in the jungle of Cancer, yukking it up out in the rains of Cancer, yelping in the blizzards of Cancer, yup-yupping it under the dark midwest skies of Cancer. That’s the party line for me. There’s also the very big part of drugs, that it just makes one feel good – like I said, that first sweeping across the body of Vicodin, it’s like a great rising of Spirit, and a wonderful wealth of body and self communes, and this very rarely happens, but you can hear it sometimes in that tortured voice of Billie Holiday. The latter, it just making you feel good, is the part I don’t share with very many people, which puts me in great violation with AA, the whole “continue to take moral inventory of ourselves and” blah, blah, blah.

When I first got sober I remember watching the movie biography of Dr. Bob or Bill, I can’t remember now (James Woods is in it), anyway, I remember watching it and hearing Bill or Bob say they drank because “they never felt good enough,” and that just about did it for me. I didn’t need to see no more of that movie. I got it. I was like, “Yep, where do I sign up?” And then, there I was, setting up chairs and making coffee and greeting people at the door and I got a sponsor and never did say no, the way the old timers tell you. They say, “Never say no, kid. Don’t drink. Go to meetings. Never say no.” It was a religion. I went everyday for my first three years, and when I say everyday, I mean the Lord’s Day, too. I communed with my brethren. Some went back out and we got reports. It was scary. Then, seven years in I got some doc out in ol’ Houston telling me I got four months to live because of some cancer, and the first thing I think is, “drink.” Yet, I didn’t. I stayed the course. But I got the first taste of pain pills. And what did it matter, people probably thought, if he eats too many? He’s only got three more months, they’d whisper. Like the gossip of a small-town knitting group.

So, here it is: 1. I’m eating pills like candy because still, even after a decade of sobriety, I still don’t feel good enough, even though these have been the most fruitful years of my entire life and 2. There’s the actual pain of having cancer, like having tumors and stuff and chemo and 3. (maybe the most profound part) wanting, desiring of a little solace from the very real fact that the experimental treatment I just had may not work (although I believe and hope that it is), but being a realist, I have to give some thought to it not working. Therefore, I’m popping pills like it’s New Years 1999 and I’m Prince, because I just want some time away from thinking about having to make decisions about future treatments and “lists of thing to do before one dies” (I hate the other name people have given to this list. That makes me want to get high and waste away in a corner). Let’s face it, how many surgeries do you think I have in me? My oncologist said it right when he said, “How much lung do you think we can take out before you can’t breathe? How much Psoas muscle you think got? How much you think we can cut out before you can’t walk anymore?”

And then there’s my much more darker dealings with death. We don’t have to go there. Like I said, I’m no James Frey. I’m no cowboy. I’m just trying to right this ship because, brother, I got off-course. The pills, you know. And I’m just trying to right this ship before I get totally lost in some drug-haze ocean where, yes, I’ll experience no cancer, but I’ll experience full-on drug addiction once again, and there ain’t no more SOS in me anymore I don’t think. It’s just empty, rattled signals. This “· · · — — — · · ·” will just fall on deaf ears the world over. This feels like a true statement.

So, the other day I got caught. The last few days I’ve been going cold turkey. I came home with two prescriptions from my oncologist for “headaches,” which is a real side-effect I feel; but did it warrant two scripts for the two Oxy’s, one fast acting, one long acting? Did it warrant taking five or six, maybe eight long lasting Oxy’s and maybe four or five short acting Oxy’s at once? Was my headache that bad? No. I just was getting high at that point. I hadn’t yet made the connection. I was all but short-circuiting after Bethesda, and I know to you AA brothers and sisters out there this all sounds like “rationalizations, etc.” I hear you. But, here this, what’s worse is, yes, I was/am a cancer patient, and I was playing the card hard with my wife. Of all people, she asked, “Why did you even need to get the one script filled, the short acting one?”

“I don’t know. What if my headache was extra large?”


“I don’t know. I didn’t even think about it. It was busy, I was looking for a thermometer, you know, because of my headaches and shit, and the lady at the counter was all like, ‘Can I help you?’ and I just handed over the scripts because, you know, Tylenol’s been recalled (Did you know that?), and I was all, like, wondering what the difference between Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen was. You know what I mean?”

She just stared out the window of the apartment we were living in and started crying. She said, “You’re lying. I can’t live like this. You’re lying.” Then she did the saddest thing I ever saw her do. She just kept locking and unlocking the window like she wanted to open it and then not. It made me feel so sad inside I almost lost it.

“I’m not. Tylenol is being recalled. I was crazy overwhelmed with Walgreens. Just handed over the scripts. Overwhelmed. Maddened. Crazed there. You know how it is there, Em.”

“You’re lying. I can’t do this.” Lock. Unlock.

The skyscrapers beyond her looked sad. They wept. The cornices of their high floor windows looked like rolling tears. Oh, those sad skyscrapers!

We were in a jam, a fix, her and I. We’d been for days and weeks maybe. My vicodin addiction made me extra sick during my experimental treatment. I just quit it and the doctors didn’t know and their pain dosing wasn’t, like, you know, eight pills every five hours. That’s for horses. Yes, Emily and I, we was in what they call a fix.

When, a few days later, she hid the short acting Oxy’s and I found them, and then took twenty-five, not all at once of course – I was working undercover, you know – not really thinking that she’d, as smart as she is, have counted them! She asked, “Where’s the 25?”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“You’re lying to me! Again!” She’d started to cry.

“No, I’m not. Believe what you’d like.”

“Believe what I’d like? They count these things like crazy at Walgreens. You’re telling me that they missed 25 fucking pills?”

I said nothing. I was pleading the fifth. I shrugged my shoulders. I still had my long lasting pills in my book bag. You know, for the headaches and the cancer and the self-pity and the whole not good enough bit. Real blah, blah, blah stuff, I know. Stop reading now. It doesn’t get any better.

“You’re lying to me!”

Stupid shrug of shoulders.

Three days or so ago, with maybe 7 of the 120 pills my oncologist had given me to take for pain (that was on Tuesday, June 20 – you do the math), Emily asks, because I’d been acting so weird: shakes, cold sweats, no energy, withdrawn, moody in the extreme, “goofy” (?), she asks, “Where’s the bottle for the other Oxy’s.”

The jig was up. The race was over. I’d nowhere to go.

I told her from the bed, in the midst of cold sweats, “I don’t need to give you my bottle. That’s ridiculous. I’m not going to give you the bottle. I’m not going to be answerable to you about my pain pills!”

She left the room. She was mad. There was silence all over the place. It swept across the joint, from wall to wall, from beam to beam, from bathroom to windows to kitchen to bedrooms. It was nothing but silence. The silence of a wife who’d been lied to and now was just waiting because the silence would pull me out of my nefarious den. No one would have been able to withstand that silence. It was as wicked and paranoiac as Hanoi Hanna must have been for the grunts in ‘Nam.

I slowly pulled myself up. I grabbed my bag. Pulled out my sad little bottle that had maybe 7, maybe 6 pills left, of 120, prescribed June 20, 2011. I walked to the living room because what else was there to do. Let my marriage go? I had cancer to worry about. I have a baby on the way. I gave her the bottle, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on her face. It was wonder. Not the kind of wonder one might experience driving through the redwoods south of San Francisco or traversing the twelfth-century streets of some European capitol city. No. It was not that kind of wonder. It was wonder, yes; but it was wonder that I’d lied to her for so long and it was the kind of wonder one has when one watches a crime being committed in broad daylight. Like, Does everyone see this shit? It’s the wonder of collusion. Like she’d been part of this whole scheme I’d up and had running.

“That’s like ten a day.” That’s all she said at first. “Wait, it’s more.” She took the bottle from my hand, shook it, looked into it. She’s very good at math. She’s in the business world.

“I’d take a handful, yeah, but I stuck to the every twelve hour thing like it says on the label. I followed the label. Like,” and then in a lower voice, “the second part.”

“But it doesn’t say take 5 or 6 every twelve. Does it? Does it say ‘Take 8 every twelve hours?’” She held up the bottle. It gleamed in the sunlight coming through the windows.

“I guess not.”

“You guess not.”


“You guess not. That’s all you’ve got to say, some stupid fucking ‘I guess not.’”

There’s nothing worse than that moment for a drug addict. When you get caught. She’d asked if I was taking too many before, only days before, and I’d said, “Of course not.” I was scheming her, and, more than that, more serious than that, I was scheming me. See, and I ain’t no 12-stepper preacher/purist, but I got to say drug addicts are the very best schemers. That’s a true statement. They never really lose their touch, even with cancer and a decade of clean time, which is really all up in the air now because I don’t know now. What’s sober when you’ve got cancer and you’ve got to take the drugs or suffer in pain? I know what’s not sober – when you’re just taking the pills– but there’s such a fine line between fighting the feeling of having cancer (Like, “Oh, God. Please help me, God, just not feel like I got cancer for a few hours. Oh, God. Please help me just erase a little part of that part of me. Not the whole part, God. Just that little part) and actually having the physical pain of cancer (Like, Oh, God. This hurts, this hurts, this hurts, make the pain go away, the pain. Oh, God, the pain. I hurt so much. Leave me be, God). I’m no Dr. Bob or Bill, but I guess if I was honest with myself, I’d have to say I ain’t been all that clean these days. I haven’t been all that sober. Sober means not only being temperate in the use of drugs and alcohol but it also means being marked by seriousness and gravity. Sober is being marked by self-restraint, being devoid of frivolity, excess or exaggeration.

What to do? You see my conundrum here, don’t you, dear reader?

It’s what hurts. But you are what you do. There ain’t no escaping that. That there’s a true statement. I’ve learned that sentence the hard way, some time ago, and I keep having to learn it even now because somehow my brain just can’t seem to get it in its right self. But I’m getting there. I’m trying to be honest here. I ain’t no James Frey.

I’ve kicked habits now six times since I’ve been with cancer, but these last six months, these grueling last six months of surgery and chemo and then these whack-job IL2 treatments have been grueling. And now I’m kicking. Make no mistake. I kick. That’s a true statement. I kick and kick and kick. Make no mistake. It’s true.