"The mark of an immature man is that he would die knobly for a cause. The mark of a mature man is that he would live humbly for one" - Catcher in the Rye -WARNING WRITER SPELLING CHALLENGED! But Sometimes you have to say "what the fuck!"

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Hemingway’s “Black Ass” and that Damned Monkey on my Back

Repost from 10/4/04



Dangerous Black Ass
After a comment on my blog left by Robotnik on Ernest Hemingway, I realized some similarities between the deceased writer and myself. Most notably, “Hemingway was subject to what he called 'black ass' bouts of depression, an inherited condition that wasn't helped by his drinking or his tendency to put himself into dangerous situations”. (From Hemingway Website)
Its hard to admit that you have a drinking problem, or that you are a “problem drinker”. For the last few weeks, since I quit drinking, I have felt great, better than ever. Then came this weekend, and a night of drinking and debauchery, and I realize I must stop this in order to live.





Hemingway was a veteran of war, who wrote about death and dying to the point of obsession. Eventually he shot himself in the head in 1961. There are arguments that depression is hereditary. My great grandfather killed himself, as well as my aunt, so I believe part of my depression comes from my genetic background. Hemingway’s granddaughter Margaux Hemingway killed herself in 1996.

Don’t Look Now There’s a Monkey on Your Back
Drinking served as the monkey on my back for years, causing me depression, toxic and violent hangovers, and the motivation for placing myself in dangerous situations.
As a teenager, I recall drinking motivated of angst and rebellion. Dressed in Cure t-shirts with peroxide bleached mod hairdos, we would shot gun bootlegged Lucky Lager to the point of annihilation. Being a groupie to this punk local band, we attended shows at fraternity parties, keggers in back wooded hideouts, or private parties when parents were away. My typical scenario at first was this; slam beers, get smashed, then cry and talk about suicide, and do something to hurt myself like cutting up my arm with a rusty beer can. Things then turned from self-inflicted pain, to putting myself in vulnerable situations to be exploited. I lost my virginity to an older “Fast Times Ron Johnson” type who got me drunk and popped my cherry. Like most depressed, neurotic and lost young girls; once drunk, I became easy prey for “sexcapades”. In fact, this is how I got together with my ex-husband, and son’s father, we got wasted off Mad-Dog one night, and ended up having sex. The next thing you know we were this mismatched, constantly drunk couple. Soon after that, I was pregnant, married…..and trapped.


Don't look now
There's a monkey on your back
Don't look now
There's a monkey on you...
Don't look now
There's a monkey on your back
Don't look now
There's a monkey on you...

So you tell me that you won't do anymore

If I keep on askin' baby, maybe
I'll get what I'm askin' for

Why can't you do it?
Why can't you set your monkey free?
Always giving into it
Do you love the monkey or do you love me?
-George Michael “Monkey”


Kissing Malt Liquor Breath
When pregnant, I quit drinking, smoking and everything. I tried hard to be the “good wife”, though my young husband was not ready to give up his hard drinking ways. Living with an alcoholic wore on my soul, I still can’t stand the smell of malt liquor breath to this day. When I turned 21 in San Diego, it really didn’t mean much being a young mother. Occasionally, I went out at Mission Beach bars and drank a little, but never to the point of excess. See, I was married to a drunk, and this repulsed me. I never cheated on him, or did anything other than plan my eventual escape. There were a few times I went out with the navy wives (when we had sitters) and drank myself to obliteration. I always suffered a migraine the next day, and swore this would be the last time of such foolishness.

Homecoming Visits
Whenever I came home to Bremerton for visits, all morality, will power, and strength went out the door. My hometown serves as a portal to my dysfunctional youth, and all underpinnings of sin. When I left my husband, and returned for a 2-month visit, the party was “on”. I had my parents to baby-sit and I could go out and party like a rock star, something I never had really been able to do, getting pregnant so young. My girlfriends and I would hit up the local bars nightly, and drink ourselves shit faced. With drinking came exposing myself to dangerous situations I would not engage in sober. After hours parties with strange men. Sexual adventures with old flames in parked cars. Sexual adventures with strangers in sketchy situations.

Puke and Spins
Then there was the immediate hangover. Sometimes it would hit me in the early evening, and I would run like the wind to the bathroom and puke all over the stalls. Alternatively, it came on with severe spins, where I had no choice but to lie down in a parked car with a paper cup, and sit/spin/puke for hours. The next day after a night of drinking would always be pure hell, most often accompanied by a migraine, severe vomiting, hot/cold flashes, and the shakes. There is nothing I can do in this condition but sleep, cry, and admonish myself.

Bezerkely in Berkeley
These episodes of periodic excess seemed limited to my visits to Bremerton. While at Berkeley my first couple years, I studied too intensely, and rarely took the time to go out. At some point I started hanging out in the Berkley Punx scene, and going to live shows. By then I had a support network of single moms’ who would watch my son. I also started drinking wine with cheese at home. This habit picked up from UC Berkeley elitist networking “meet and greet” events. We then discovered a pub walking distance from my house called the Mallard Club. This became convenient for us, as we could get wasted and walk home. The monkey climbed back upon me, and I started engaging in dangerous behavior again. Whenever I get drunk, I am invincible, I am James Dean, I’m a James Brown Sex Machine, and I have no fear. Fortunately and unfortunately, some of the time I have no memory of the night before either.

Pot V. Booze
Becoming a pothead was a great thing for me. Instead of going out and getting drunk off my ass, I started staying home, getting stoned, and watching movies. No driving in cars, no dangerous behavior, no blackouts, no hangovers, and no migraines. In my years in the marijuana movement, my drinking went down considerably. But there were the special occasions where I did drink, and each time I usually ended up making a scene by passing out and puking outside the car door. It’s a 50/50 chance, like Russian Roulette, you never know how my body is going to react when I put alcohol inside.

Moving Back to Barville
Moving back to Bremerton I feared the kiss of death, as I always end up a slave to alcohol here. My ex-boyfriend of the last three years was a former AA “drinker” and it seemed we could not even hang out at his house without getting drunk. He always brought me a bottle of wine, cuz hey, I’m a slutty little whore when drunk. Because of this fact, he always made sure there was alcohol a plenty. He was also in a local band. I remember countless shows where he left me passed out drunk in his truck, while he finished a performance.

Black Ass Came A Haunting
Then came the depression and the self-medication. For a while, I tried zyprexa, paxil, and effexor and quit drinking. This caused me weight gain, hypersomnia, and apathy. My boyfriend blamed all our problems in the relationship on my “meds”, and continued to drink like a fish and pressure me for sex. Uninterested, and cold, I turned off to him and to the relationship. Then, I took myself off the meds and decided to heal myself.

Stella Was Getting Her Groove Back
Once single again, my party friends were back in black, and ready to take me out on the town. Again I started my pattern of binge drinking, lush behavior, and exposure to dangerous situations. My depression started getting worse, and then so did my drinking. I started drinking home alone, first a glass a night, and then by the time my son left, I was up to a bottle a night. I realized I had to stop, I wasn’t getting better, I was instead getting worse. When I made the commitment to see a shrink and get on meds I quit drinking. That was three weeks ago, and I have felt great ever since.

Slip Off the Wagon
Friday night one of my drinking buddies called me and asked to go out. She knew I had quit drinking and was avoiding the bars. I love my friend however, and we always have a blast when together. She told me she would buy me two drinks and that I could be the designated driver, and stop drinking after that. The problem is, I have a drinking problem, and when I go out drinking…. I cannot stop. Hence we get to the dance club, I’m having a blast, ego boosted by all the male attention. I meet a GI just returned from Iraq, and give him the drunk OTOFTC (Operation Take One For the Country) welcome on the dance floor. Once again, I’m drunk, and out of control.

Revenge of the Migraine
The next day I paid the price, hell the whole weekend was shot. I experienced my worst migraine in years; so sick I couldn’t eat or hold down water. I just lay in my bed cried, and squeezed my head together like a vice. The sharp, piercing pain lasted all day Saturday, well into the night. I should have gone to the hospital, but I was home alone, and too sick to use the phone. Sunday, the pain was gone, but my body felt as if I had been through a battle with Satan (as it had). I also had the post hangover blues… cursing myself for slipping up, and letting it happen again.

I Say No, No, No, I Cant Drink It No More
As much as I love to get drunk, I can’t do it, I CAN NOT drink. It poisons my body and makes me act crazy. Pot head I can be, but freaky drunk no more. I do not want to end up like Hemingway (well famous writer yes, but tragic suicide no). I know that the key to my overcoming depression is quitting alcohol. I must set that monkey free.

Hemingway Quotes

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.
Ernest Hemingway

An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.
Ernest Hemingway

Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it-don't cheat with it.
Ernest Hemingway

Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
Ernest Hemingway

I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?
Ernest Hemingway

All things truly wicked start from an innocence.
Ernest Hemingway

Wars are caused by undefended wealth.
Ernest Hemingway

The sinews of war are five - men, money, materials, maintenance (food) and morale.
Ernest Hemingway

Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.
Ernest Hemingway

Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.
Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway Bio

The Hemingway Blog

Killed Paive - July 8 - 1918
Desire and
All the sweet pulsing aches
And gentle hurtings
That were you,
Are gone into the sullen dark.
Now in the night you come unsmiling
To lie with me
A dull, cold, rigid bayonet
On my hot-swollen, throbbing soul.
A Farewell to Arms (1929), Hemingway's great novel set against the background of the war in Italy, eclipses the poetry dealing with his war-time experiences.
Before America entered the war Hemingway (1899-1961) volunteered and served in the ambulance corps in France; he was transferred to the Paive region of Italy in July, 1918, and shortly after on July 8 was wounded in a mortar attack. The following poem apparently looks back to that day
”. –From Hemingway Website

A Silly Song to Mark the end of my Drinking.


A LADY THAT I KNOW JUST CAME FROM COLUMBIA,
SHE SMILED BECAUSE I DID NOT UNDERSTAND.
THEN SHE HELD OUT SOME MARIJUANA, HA HA!
SHE SAID IT WAS THE BEST IN ALL THE LAND.

AND I SAID,
'NO, NO, NO, NO, I DON'T SMOKE IT NO MORE,
I'M TIRED OF WAKING UP ON THE FLOOR.
NO, THANK YOU, PLEASE, IT ONLY MAKES ME SNEEZE,
THEN IT MAKES IT HARD TO FIND THE DOOR.'

A WOMAN THAT I KNOW JUST CAME FROM MAJORCA, SPAIN,
SHE SMILED BECAUSE I DID NOT UNDERSTAND.
THEN SHE HELD OUT A TEN POUND BAG OF COCAINE,
SHE SAID IT WAS THE BEST IN ALL THE LAND.

AND I SAID,
'NO, NO, NO, NO, I DON'T SNIFF IT NO MORE,
I'M TIRED OF WAKING UP ON THE FLOOR.
NO, THANK YOU, PLEASE, IT ONLY MAKES ME SNEEZE,
AND THEN IT MAKES IT HARD TO FIND THE DOOR.'

A MAN I KNOW JUST CAME FROM NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE,
HE SMILED BECAUSE I DID NOT UNDERSTAND.
THEN HE HELD OUT SOME MOONSHINE WHISKEY, OH HO,
HE SAID IT WAS THE BEST IN ALL THE LAND.

AND I SAID,
'NO, NO, NO, NO, I DON'T DRINK IT NO MORE,
I'M TIRED OF WAKING UP ON THE FLOOR.
NO, THANK YOU, PLEASE, IT ONLY MAKES ME SNEEZE,
AND THEN IT MAKES IT HARD TO FIND THE DOOR.'
The No-no Song lyric
Ringo Starr

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