i can’t sing
thanks to everyone for sticking with me these past three years…it has been a rough ride, and i know that i haven’t been the kindest person. the truth is, i have been coping with a growing addiction to meth amphetamine, but am now able to admit that i have a problem with addiction and am seeking help.
i dropped out of a state school following my freshman year and met death dealer while living with my parents and attending community college. dd and i became friendly while collaborating on a sculpture project in art class, and at the end of the semester we exchanged phone numbers. since dd had recently returned from his final tour in Afghanistan and all of my hs friends were attending school away from home i felt obligated to meet new people.
on new year’s eve dd invited me out to a bar. my girlfriend urged me to stay in. she was disturbed by dd’s war stories and felt that he was a negative influence on me. my pleading eventually forced her concession, and she tagged along to keep me out of trouble.
dd picked us up in a vehicle he called the reaper. as we drove to the bar he explained how much war resembled a bbq. in the parking lot he pulled out his glass and before hitting it explained that smoking meth was the closest he would ever get to that feeling of driving tanks through Afghan villages. as courtesy he offered me a taste, and i accepted. i didn’t do it bc i was impressed by his war stories, or because i wanted him to like me or something. i did it because i wanted to impress my girlfriend, who was horrified. we had only been dating for a few months, and i wanted her to think that i was edgy and unpredictable. she pleaded with me not to try it, calling me an idiot and refusing to look at me, but her goading only made the meth more desirable, her disapproval fueling my nascent craving. i kissed her on the cheek and told her i was only going to try it once. she flinched with repulsion. her cheeks were always so soft.
before i smoked meth i never tried singing. i was passionate about screaming but kept it to myself because it was slowly ruining my voice and i didn’t want anyone to think that i was useless because i already felt untalented. but smoking meth gave me the voice of an angel. i think my girlfriend became jealous bc she was shy and always too embarrassed to sing even to herself in private.
dd lived in the apartments a few towns over with his wife and infant son. he also lived with a mutt that turned the white carpet the color of cookies and cream with it’s curly black fur. during winter break i went over to dd’s house to smoke meth and watch him play Xbox. there was always cold boxes of Domino’s stacked in the kitchenette but i never ate it, and i never saw dd eat it either. sometimes while i sat on the floor and practiced singing i would hear dd’s wife scurrying from their bedroom to fetch a slice of cold Domino’s to share with their infant son. i saw her shiver with loathing upon hearing my songs and only ever saw her from behind, scurrying back into privacy.
during these meth binges i never said goodbye to dd and always made sure to leave before sunrise so i would make it home before my parents left for work. my nosy mother always cheerfully asked me what i did last night, and i would always reply ‘good’ before slinking into the basement to practice super smash bros melee until the high subsided.
i only lied to my girlfriend and told her that i lost touch with dd when i was singing at his house. in reality i had never been closer to dd (once he cried when he showed me the illegal photos he took during his tours of duty).
my parents requested that i visit my grandmother once a week, and during my visits i would do some housework for her. sometimes she would pay me for my efforts, and when i became addicted to meth i took advantage of her generous nature and senility by claiming there had been a snowstorm and shoveling the invisible snow in her driveway. but i wasn’t a junkie, i was a singer, and i needed the money to practice.
i wasn’t in dd’s sculpture class during my spring semester, and i seldom saw him. my singing ceased because i didn’t have an outlet. i needed a band. che loved to listen to my voice, and when we started to practicing in his basement he offered me my own pipe. i invited my girlfriend to watch us practice, but she couldn’t stay because she was appalled by the smell of che’s living conditions: a dog piled toilet, a sink full of dirty laundry, stacks of empty takeout next to the trash can, a bathroom bereft of toilet paper, a mattress on the floor of the living room in place of a couch, a mysterious sleeping woman beneath the sheets of the mattress, a big screen tv that always played neon genesis evangelion, piles of full trash bags, a pelican case full of drugs…
however, my girlfriend was very supportive of my new ambition, and allowed me the time i needed to practice. she never suspected that smoking meth was necessary for us to practice because i kept my secret closely guarded; she had no reason to believe that i had smoked meth beyond the first time.
che and i were practicing everyday, and needed more money to feed our need to practice. because i didn’t have my own laptop i had to sell my girlfriend’s to pay for our practice space, but it was easiest to steal from my parents when my grandmother passed because they were distracted by grief. we had a good reason (our band), and i would have gladly asked for the funds if they weren’t so busy with their grief/dissertation respectively. my lifestyle was officially edgy, and unfortunately i couldn’t even let my girlfriend know because she had become a victim of my edginess.
she remained in good spirits despite her laptop and her dissertation going missing, but i became cold. i couldn’t talk to her about our band because i didn’t want her to steal our ideas, or tell her girlfriends, who could then tell their friends, who would then steal our ideas. it was bad enough that we were practicing in a space we shared with other bands. they could hear my voice and copy my unique style. i couldn’t even trust the people i was stealing from.
i stopped eating carrots. i only smoked meth, drank diet coke and ate sleeping pills. i heard laughter in the halls and saw the ghost of a young girl scampering down the hallway. dd’s child was a stillborn. che’s dad was my dad but we weren’t brothers. my girlfriend finished her dissertation and went to grad school at uc berkeley. i couldn’t decide what i liked more, blood or sand. a cadre of cloaked apparitions surrounded me whenever i closed my eyes. i sang so hard i lost a tooth. my delirious hymns sought god in the closet of a gas station and begged him to kill me.
the police heard potential in my somber psalms of doom and told me that with some practice i could really make something of my voice. they never wanted to hurt me, they just wanted me to have formal training, so they enrolled me in a voice class and suggested that i join a band. losing any more teeth would hinder my craft, and i would go right back to screaming they said. thanks to the police i am completely rehabilitated, and now manage a car wash. i smoked myself over the edge of reason and became edgier than i ever intended. smoking meth may have made me a wretch, a thief, and a liar, but it also made me a singer, and for that i am very grateful.