Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gratitude is relative...

I get this weird wired energy walking down Eutaw Street, past the mob loitering outside Lexington Market, murmuring "wanna buy, wanna buy". What's for sale? Drugs, specifically smack and crank. I feel a voyeur watching the swift, furtive exchanges, money for baggies concealed in downturned palms.

Watching the desperate joy (yes, there is community here on this street) makes me think lots of things. This blog entry, for one. But mostly I ponder why indulging in these substances must be so stigmatized relative to the societally blatant acceptance of tobacco and alcohol.

I also consider my luck in this life, despite my recent pity-partying: my children are vibrant, healthy beings; I have a strong, supportive partner; my job pays well and satisfies me (most of the time) intellectually and emotionally; I have my mind, my body, my breath; today, the sun warms my earth.

With time, gratitude becomes relative. When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the words stage 4 squamous cell sound like a blessing compared to last week's multisyllabic melanoma. Six weeks of radiation and chemo seem infinitely shorter than seven.

This morning, I woke, a kernal of a mantra playing in my head. I wrote it down, and fear disappeared...


in desperate quiet,
cocainated nerves flare
a dull burn;
synapses flood,
into dark

THE WRITING... it goes, it goes, ever so slowly, but I am revising a climactic scene that requires much tender care.

Peace, Linda


  1. Well you know the saying. Save for the grace of God go I.
    Blessed is an awesome thing.
    Fear, dark and dank
    Feel better

  2. "But mostly I ponder why indulging in these substances must be so stigmatized relative to the societally blatant acceptance of tobacco and alcohol."

    I might suggest that tobacco does not receive much acceptance these days. Out here on the South Plains, just as much as it is in California, where restaurant owners are forced to provide a smoke-free establishment because some people can't choose a different place to eat, I would propose that tobacco is almost as much of a "social sin" as the other drugs of habit. The only thing separating it from the rest is that people can still buy tobacco legally, which strikes me as funny when governments will sanction smoking by making it legal to purchase on the one hand, and then sue the same companies that produce the legal substance. The point of my little rant here is not to support or oppose tobacco. It is to affirm your position that our laws do not always make sense. Maybe the tobacco companies have a better lobbiest than the Columbians, but not as strong as that of the American Lung Association.

    Alcohol has already fought the good fight. And won.

    Thought-provoking post, Linda. I can see you fusing this philosophical debate into a story as some point in time.

  3. thank you so much for your kind words. my identical feelings go out to you--if there's anything i've learned from all the cancer reading i've gotten to do over the last few weeks, it's that hope and good thoughts can mean the world.

  4. Paige, thanks for the well wishes. So much appreciated.

    Stephen, oh yes, so much food for writing fodder. I weave the substacce abuse stuff in my stories, but have a feeling some of this turmoil will manifest itself in my non-fiction stuff. As for smoking being less accepted... yes, to a large extent it is no longer PC or cool to have a cigarette dripping from your lips. Except, unfortunately, among the younger set, especially girls and young women more enamored with smoking's ability to curb appetite than to the destruction of their lungs, skin, nasal passages.

    Moonie, thank you. I just put up a new post with a link to your cause. Fingers crossed, prayers prayed... Peace, Linda