DOB: 3/29/69; Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Then a dramatic moment happened. The Grateful Dead came to Philly. These people were dipping crystal in my room, making sheets to sell.
I needed money, and I got busted — by school, not the police, which was lucky for me, I guess.
I was born not of my own choice, right? And I was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil. My Mom and my Dad were like your normal people. My brother had been born three years earlier in Rio. We were living there. My Dad was in the Foreign Service. He was working in the arts there.
And we lived there, I think three more years, and then came to D.C. My Dad’s job changed and he was relocated, and we moved to D.C. But we went to Australia and Ireland and England for brief periods of time in between that. And then we settled here and got a house in D.C. where I had a normal, average childhood, I suppose.
I started going to Lafayette School, and I guess most of my memories from there are pretty hideous, just average feelings of like not belonging, wanting to be accepted, even so young, and just trying to do things so that people would like me. I just remember having pain a lot and always feeling totally outside.
It was in fourth grade or so and I switched to a Catholic school because my school was going to open space and they didn’t think that I should be there. My parents didn’t, my first year didn’t. My first year at Blessed Sacrament, my parents got divorced or got separated. it was really, really sudden, and while I was in B.S. I was just hating life and that was for the rest of it until a little while ago.
My parents split up. My Dad, they were both fifty four, and my Dad had an affair with this woman that he was painting on Sundays.
She was twenty and she was in college at G.W. He was painting her, she was a model, and one night while my Mom was up visiting sick friends in New York, she called and he had been out to dinner with her and he told her over the phone that they were going to split up.
What happened after that was a lot of really, a crazy time, and it was just really hard. My brother sort of took the logical escape, which was not to deal with any of it. I would come home and my Mom would be in tears and totally hysterical and I would just be there. I didn’t know what to do.
It was really like a dramatic separation. I was there when my Dad dropped me off once with a friend of mine. We had been out rollerskating, and he had his girlfriend with him, and my Mom was outside waiting, and they had a big fight, fist fight, and I ran away.
And that just happened for a long time. I remember coming home and having groups of women over there talking about how their men had split and were really, screwing them over. Coming home and finding my Mom in tears all the time. She was stealing from the Safeway. My Mom is British, very very British, very very British, and she wasn’t poor, but now she was. She hadn’t worked in fifteen years, she didn’t want a job and all this shit.
I just remember being, whatever what it was, eleven, and having my mother’s problems being mine. I guess what it was was I didn’t want to look at how I was feeling about it and so I just concentrated on her pain. But what ended up happening was I took her pain. And that’s a lot of pain for an eleven-year-old.
Anyway, time went on, they got divorced.
Mom was totally bitter and hateful. She apologized all the time for bringing me into it, but I guess she couldn’t help it. Because what ended up happening was that I had a lot of hatred for my Dad. I didn’t speak to him for about two years. And after that it was only just sort of bullshit.
And then in that tire I started getting high. I had found a group of people that hung out up at this park, and started getting high with them. And it felt good to sort of belong, even though they gave me total shit for about two years. After about two years of that, I started going on tour with the Dead (Grateful Dead). I guess I was thirteen and a half. I told my Mom that I was leaving. She said, “No, you’re not.” I said, “Yes, I am.” And I went.
I went up to Canada with them, I went down the East Coast, through the Midwest, out to California, up and down the Coast. Just hanging out with people on tour and hoping that things would change.
I was somewhere the other day and we were talking about how your whole life felt like you’re waiting for this event, that you were here for some reason, and this event would happen, and then that would be the reason. So it was like you could totally not participate in shit and be just like waiting for this event to happen. That’s what I did, definitely.
I got around on tour without . . . I would come back from tour and nothing would change. I would leave for tour and nothing would change. I started developing like all these different personalities. I think they are all part of me, but certain people would’see certain sides of me, and I would come from Dead tour and start promoting hard core shows and all this shit, and just . . . No matter where I was there was just always pain. It was always like nobody else in the world could understand.
When I was sixteen I started believing that I was going insane. Really, and I started playing all these games with my mind, and like trying to go to twenty four hours with not talking to anyone even if they talked to me. And a lot of times it didn’t work, but a couple of times it did and just shit like that. People I would become friends with and just not speak to them. I was really rude to a lot of people. I just shut a lot of people out.
I shut my family out in a lot of ways. My Mom would never know whether I was going to be there or not. Like sometimes I would leave her a note saying, “Gone. See you in a month.” Still wasn’t speaking with my Dad. It had been like four years, I think. I would come back and go to school for some time and then just take off.
I started being friends with this guy. He was the only person I would really talk to. And he would go and shoot dope and then come back and we’d walk around and then hang in his house. A lot of times he would be the only person that I would talk to for a week.
And then he went into St. Elizabeth’s (mental hospital) and I started leaving a lot more. I just really believed that there was something really wrong with me. And that if I told anybody about it, either they wouldn’t understand or they were going to try to do something, and I didn’t know if I wanted that. So finally I think what happened was that I just started accepting it. And then really getting into it.
And that’s when I started, up in Philadelphia. I moved up there with my Dad, not living with him, but like very close to him.
I still had a lot of rage for him, and he married this chick. I couldn’t even possibly begin to go into that. I would go into his house and take stuff. I just thought that he deserved whatever I did totally to act however I wanted to, because of one thing that he had done.
I tried to go see this counselor at my school up there. He was the only person that I ever, like counselor type person, that I would ever talk to, and tried to explain to him some of the things. And he told me that I had this personality where I was always trying to fill myself. I said I eat too much, I smoke, I do bong hits, whatever it is, I bite my nails. And he said that there was an ancient Chinese philosophy where there is this type of person that always tries to fill themselves, to fill this hole, and they will fill it with whatever they can. And that what I should do is accept being empty.
And I tried that for a while. I started to isolate. I spent time alone. But most of the time I spent it with people, but alone. I would go to this place in Philly called “the Stars,” which was like way out on the wrong side of town. I would walk in and it was like, “Hi, I’m white, and you’re all not.” It was like a Jamaican dance hall. They searched you at the door and stuff, for guns.
And I would hang out all night. Shit like that, just going places where I could be alone in a group of people.
I would miss appointments with this counselor through that school, I would miss classes. It used to just kill me because it was like what I wanted to do. I was in art school and I was doing the shit that I wanted to do. And I would say to myself, “No, I don’t want to get high before I go to class.” Because I am doing photography and you have to remember logic, which is not easy for me, but I would get high anyway. And that whole fucking pain was always there.
The one thing that I can say about my whole life is that I hurt. I really believed that there was something wrong and I really didn’t think about suicide, but I used to think about just absolutely not caring either way. If I lived, I lived. If I died, I died. I used to walk out of movies halfway.
It doesn’t matter how it ends. I seen enough, I’m ready, it doesn’t matter. But I used to always feel stagnant. Nothing was going to change. Nothing ever changed, no matter where I was it didn’t matter. I would build my hopes up for one thing and then it would fall. So no use to do that.
I really try to get inside my head. Like walk around, it’s so hard to explain, like putting myself into a psychosis. Just walk around in my head and not be a part of anything, like watching a movie. And then feeling bad because I wasn’t a part of anything. It’s like let me separate myself and then fill back with the wrong part.
I was completely agnostic. I was completely apathetic to anything. I tried to find a God for a while and then I realized that you’ll never know either way, right, so I just became totally agnostic at whatever I did, and it was a real easy way to do anything.
I came back for school to D.C. and it was the same. I went back up to school from D.C. and my next year, sophomore year, and there were hassles about what classes I was going to take, because I didn’t do very well the first year. I started writing a lot. I would sit up all night and just write about some shit, and it just seems that everything that happened, everything, every place I was, was all a blur. It just didn’t matter, it was just a movie. And it was just pain and Lou Reed and heroin.
Then a dramatic moment happened. The Grateful Dead came to Philly. These people were dipping crystal in my room, making sheets to sell. I needed money, and I got busted — by school, not the police. Which was lucky for me, I guess. It was just horrible. My whole life was fucking horrible. Nothing you could like pinpoint, just where I was at was not a good place. Like the counselor was talking about an empty person always trying to fill themselves. That’s just what I was. I was just empty all the time and I kept trying new things to maybe change that, but it never worked.
Anyway, so I left when they came in and searched my room and everything. I split. I ran away and went up to a rehab. People told me to just look at it like a “Club Med” type thing, like maybe they’d have horses there or something. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know when I said, “Okay, this is what I need to do right now.” I think what it was mostly was that same apathy, the same agnostic thing. “Oh, well, I guess I’ll do it. I don’ t care.”
It started feeling good. No, it didn’t, it didn’t feel any different really. It was just something that I did. And I came back to D.C. and I just started going to meetings. I don’t know why. People came up to me and I made friends. It started working. I guess I started seeing some differences. It’s eleven months later and I am still clean and I am still going to meetings every night. And there still is a lot of emptiness, but it’s different.
Sometimes I think I still want it. I want emptiness and I want that pain. But really, on the whole it feels good not to feel emptiness. It feels good to have people wanting me around. I feels good not to have to play games. I think the biggest difference is that I don’t feel, like when I walk into a room and I hear people talking about not feeling like anybody in the world could understand and having had that same feeling, like thinking that you are totally unique and finding out that you are totally ultra predictable, and it’s just this thing you have, it’s just this disease and that you’re really not insane.
I talk to my father now. That’s one of the unusual differences that’s happened. It’s a major relief not to really think that you are crazy. I’ve started writing. Since I’ve got clean four of friends have died. one hung himself on a tree outside of the house, another one O.D.‘d. I mean, on and on. I have an old phone book, and what I’ll do is, I don’t really call the people but I hear about it and I just cross off names. People are dying.
And I care now. That’s a big difference. Like that war inside of me, it’s like I give a shit now, where before it was, oh, it doesn’t matter whichever way. Now it does. It’s cool, like one of the things I have always wanted to do was to be able to live, just for today. Like enjoying wherever you are just because you’re there, and that’s where you are. And that’s starting to happen.
I react differently to things. I used to just always leave. Everywhere I was going, just would always just go there, and then leave. I would go, somewhere and get totally flipped out, think I was going crazy, think everything was wrong, and leave, and then go somewhere else and everything. I would leave to another city, Dead tours, like a constant geographical change. Every other day you’re somewhere else, and you can choose who you are with or without.
I can go somewhere and stay there for a while now. There are people in my life who understand. It’s so hard, you go through your whole life and you think that absolutely no one could possibly understand where you are at. And finally, finding someone who does, people, more than one person, amazingly enough.
I’ve been through a lot of things in eleven months, and it’s working. I wouldn’t trade this for anything. I’m clean.
It feels good to be in reality, and being sure that it’s reality. And to think that I should be committed. I’m not waiting for the event anymore. That’s living for the day for me. I really love a lot of people today. People would come in and out of my life before, and it would just be like here they are and then they are gone. Now I really care about my friends. There are people that I wish I was closer to. That’s something new. Really caring about how other people are. Instead of just how they affect my life.
Change, that’s the coolest thing. You feel so fucking stagnant. Nothing changes, nothing is ever going to change. It’s always been the same no matter where you are, no matter what is happening, it’s just the same. And that doesn’t feel like that any more. Things are fucking changing every day. It’s hard, it’s hard work, but it’s definitely worth it. I don’t feel like I am trapped any more. I don’t feel like I’m in fucking prison.
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