Tag Archives: addiction

Listening to Early Pink Floyd, Smoking Dope and Talking Wild Philosophy

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Cover of "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn&...

Cover of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

 

In the later Spring of 1997 the glow of gritty, punk-infested grunge rock paired with experimental art rock began to fade into a glimmer.  A new type of “pop-alternative” began to invade the charts.  Bands like The Verve Pipe with their hit “The Freshmen” and Third Eye Blind with their hit “Semi-Charmed Life” (a song about snorting meth-amphetamines…  a metaphor veiled by upbeat pop riffs) began to take things over.  Alternative music had reached its pinnacle of commercialism.

Mitchell, Duane and I still called ourselves Mulberry Tree.  We were getting into Pink Floyd’s early records with Syd Barrett, “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” (1967) and “Saucerful of Secrets” (1968).  The LSD infused songs would prove to be foreshadowing of things to come…

We were also into Primus and other strange art rock.  Most of the music we did was either highly philosophical or a deep cynical mockery-melody.  I know it’s a lot to say for 15 and 16 year-old sophomores in high school, but we were awfully pretentious for our age.

I decided go after Harmony’s friend Laila, to see if she would go out with me.  “Going out” was a statement we used to say that we were going to feign exclusivity with each other, as if we were pseudo-adults.  Laila reciprocated interest in me and we began to “go out”.  She was certainly cute and I dug her.  I would often go and meet her at her house.  We’d go for long walks and smoke cigarettes.  We’d occasionally stop to make out.  I began to fall for her.

I just wasn’t the kind of kid that would go on with something like this half way.  It was easy for me to substitute my feelings for Harmony with feelings for Laila.  I mean, after all, Harmony was going out with my good friend and bass player Mitchell, and they were hitting it off!  I might as well move on.

Of course I went to extremes.  I wrote poems for Laila.  I even wrote a 10 minute opus called “Stir” for her- a song of my naïve love.  She seemed to dig it and all was well.  Our relationship continued to move forward.  Every chance I got, I would tout that fact in Harmony’s face.  Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? (Prov. 27:4)

Marijuana was still a normal part of life, as was booze.  They almost seemed to be a peripheral addition to our little soap opera version of Rock n’ Roll High School.  I got high whenever I felt like it.  Mitchell, Duane, Laila, Harmony and I, and others who made up our little group of dissidents would often acquire liquor or beer for the weekends, and mix it with dope, cigarettes and caffeine.  Some of us would end up making out at the end of the night, and then we’d figure out lies to tell our parents about where we were.

In reality we existed in the cornucopian underground of our little microcosm of society.  We partied with Juniors and Seniors in High School.  We were beginning to make acquaintances with people in college.  It seemed as our tolerance for inebriation grew, we began to be accepted into some sort of secret bohemian society.  We would end up in various dark basements, smoking bud and talking wild philosophy.  We’d jam with various musicians.  We’d speculate on whether or not the earth was some sort of vortex into the next dimension, or upper plane of existence beyond us.  Or if we were living in a nihilistic wasteland that had no eternity beyond, trudging around aimlessly like lumps of scientific goo towards no destination.

This all led into the next years’ Rock Fest.  Just like the year before, Rock Fest was a collection of the bands in our High School.  It was a chance for us to express our music live.  In traditional fashion, me and the boys in our band Mulberry Tree went up to the upstairs bathroom and preceded our performance with a shared cigarette in a dark bathroom after school hours.  We had a wild show planned.  It was full of deeply aggressive music.  I was sure to blow my voice out.  It was also filled with sentimental songs.  I hoped that my cigarette and dope blown vocal cords would hold out.

We did the show in aggressive fashion, sweating our brains out, bashing our heads into cymbals, jumping into the air and putting on a spectacle.  As expected, my voice blew out, so I just yelled most of the lyrics for the songs into the microphone, imitating one of my musical hero frontmen- Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins.

We played a number which was co-written by my cool Wiccan hippie girl friend Elysia.  It was one of our personal favorites and the crowd really dug it.  Laila was jealous though.  I assured her that I only had feelings for her but she didn’t believe me.  We got in a fight about it in the parking lot and she was really spooked.  Maybe it was the fact that she was so serious about me and we were so young.  I was serious about her too.  I hoped things would work out.

After us, a band of some friends of ours went on to play who called themselves “Discordant”.  Their name described their communal habit of drinking an excessive amount of beer at a religious rate.  Of course, they played all the latest hits on the radio including “The Freshmen” by the Verve Pipe.  We had only played covers that no one knew, like “Corporal Clegg” by Pink Floyd, which amused us, but not many others.  Discordant was a hit.  They had become a household name at the High School, replacing us in our perceived pop stardom.  Of course in our callow High School minds we despised them thoroughly.  All the more reason to slip deeper into addiction and “stick it to the man”.

Rock Fest had gone well, and the party after is a blur in my memory.

A week later I got the news from Harmony on the phone.  Laila had cheated on me with Jimmy Snarks.  She had done something far heavier than we had ever done physically with him in the woods at Colony Park in Hudson, Ohio.  I was crushed to the core.  I wrote songs about it.  I resolved never to be messed around with again like that.  My ego started to inflate.  It was nearing the summer of 1997, and my G.P.A. cumulative was about a 2.13, a C minus average.  I was on a quest to get over on Laila.  I wanted to shed off the status of virginity, which my classmates saw as a handicap to man-hood.  I was ready to party harder than ever, abandon my scruples more than ever, and slip into a focused destruction more than ever.

Looking back I see the downward spiral so clearly.  If I knew then what I know now I may have caught myself ahead of time.  Yet most nights, I was left to myself.  It was as if alluring eidolons were encircling me, inspiring me to write dismal poetry and spurring me on to the next level of neurosis.  I buried my feelings for Harmony even more deeply inside of me.

Harmony and Mitchell began to tire of each other.  She was a hippie girl and Mitchell was an athlete.  They just didn’t have enough in common.  When they broke up I forced myself to be intentionally disinterested.  I wasn’t going to risk my heart to her.  The lyrics of late Nirvana member Dave Grohl described what I felt toward Harmony, as well as my own wrecking, in his song “Monkey Wrench”:

What have we done with innocence?

It disappeared with time

It never made much sense.

Adolescent resident

Wasting another night on planning my revenge.

Jazz Cigarettes, the Abolishment of Chastity, and Fred the 57-Year-Old Coke Head

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English: Howard McGhee, Brick Fleagle and Mile...

English: Howard McGhee, Brick Fleagle and Miles Davis on piano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My inhibitions were at an all time low in the summer of 1997.  Nonetheless, my social confidence was higher than before.  The sun and warmth crept into northeastern Ohio and brought with it an optimistic openness to new friends, new experiences, and greater reckless abandonment.

Jazz music became a new passion for me through my friend Leron Clink.  He was an upright and electric bass player.  He loved Thelonius Monk and Miles Davis amongst many others.  We started to jam regularly and create a strange, compelling acid jazz/rock concoction.  Leron was a Junior in High School and more familiar with eccentric characters.  He introduced me to a new potency of marijuana called by the name of “kine bud”.  The urban dictionary defines “kine” as Hawaiian for “excellent” (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=kind%20bud).  This dope usually cost us about $50 for an eighth of an ounce, as compared to $20-$25 for an eighth of an ounce of what was called “shwag”, i.e.- low grade brick weed that was likely illegally shipped from South America.  Sometimes shwag would also be cut with formaldehyde or liquid PCP, making it “wet weed”- a much more toxic yet potent form of it that would leave one feeling like rubber in addition to having a pounding headache.

Leron had a high-end appetite for pot, and always had kine bud.  His weed usually was purple, light green, orange-red and sprinkled with a crystallized white glow.  One or two hits of this stuff would send me babbling in riddles, in a comatose, borderline hallucinatory state.  Not only would I begin to become psychologically addicted to being stoned, but my wallet would be continually more and more empty…  so empty that I would have to sell a little bit of ganja to support my habit.  It may be a downward spiral, but it is true that each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1:14)

I became an occasional “middle man”.  This meant that I knew a few dealers that would get large quantities of marijuana, and I would supply my friends with it in smaller amounts.  I would hook up any unsuspecting kid with weed, no matter how young or innocent they were.  Because I was a persuasive type of personality I would even convince younger kids to try it.  Any time someone wanted to buy a $20 bag I would get it for them, and then keep a little bit for myself.  Marijuana was in a continual supply for me.  I owned a purple bong and a pipe… people began to call me “Benny”.  I began to wear tie-die t-shirts.  I was establishing myself as a wanna-be hippie of the late 90’s within my little sphere of influence.

The music of the summer of 1997 was anything but hippie music.  Ska music by “The Mighty Mighty Bosstones” was the new thing.  Alternative rockers were pop bands like Matchbox 20 and Tonic.  In my mind, the songs were cheesier than processed Velveeta.  My friends and I were still into classic rock.  We didn’t care what was happening in mainstream culture.  Let me rephrase that…  we thought we were ten times more artsy and cool than the conventional rock of our age.  Wait a minute…  I guess this meant that, by the standards of the 2010’s, we were “hipsters”!  What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.  (Eccl. 1:9)

Our band Mulberry Tree began to fall apart, because we were all going in different directions musically.  We all did our own independent projects.

I attended parties often, whenever I had the chance I would lie to and manipulate my parents to get to them.  I was still 15 and didn’t have a driver’s license, so I would always find ways to get a ride.

Once I was at a party at Caelie Shrugg’s house.  She lived with a single mother who was never home.  I have no idea what combination of substances I was on, but I know that it led me into the presence of Madiera- the girl whom Mitchell and I had been arrested the summer before for being drunk and breaking curfew.  Somehow I ended up at an outdoor fairground with her, and I definitely was burning up in my maleness and youth.  She came on to me heavy…  almost taunting me for not making the first move.  Madiera was a notoriously “bad girl”, and all of us sophomores knew it.  She was a Junior in High School.  She was experienced… a force of virile potency.  She was wild and partied like crazy.  Something in each of us younger boys was attracted to the wildness in her.

And the next thing I knew Madiera and I were together.  In some summer haze of partying and riding the wind I looked…  and there she was at my side.

Madiera and I were high all of the time.  We were drunk for most of the weekend.  The private encounters that would ensue were reckless and discombobulated.  We were caught in a deep infatuation.  I was disillusioned in believing this was a true ascent to masculinity.

Boys at the age of 15 feel this way in every generation.  They become convinced that sex is a rite of passage into manhood.  I can’t even speak long about the pressure my friends and I would place on each other to enter into this mysterious realm of spiritual and physical connection.  Though I now believe that sexual freedom can only prevail guiltlessly within an exclusionary marital union, I didn’t believe this then.  I got caught up in what my friends believed.  Even the pure love that I seemed to feel for my childhood love Harmony began to fade into a deep memory.  I wanted to make the rite of passage.  God gave me up in the lusts of my heart to impurity, to the dishonoring of my body among others. (Rom. 1:24)

Madiera and I did share that intimate moment together, insecure and exposed, confused and unsure.  I didn’t know what to think after it had happened.  Did I even really know her?  Did we understand each other?  Were we really friends, or were we just confused children, bouncing around like pinballs in a teenage wasteland?  I told her that I loved her…  Maybe it would grow with time.  Maybe we would understand each other.

The relationship continued into the late summer, where we eventually embarked on a camping trip and had an encounter with Fred the Coke Head.

We were on a campsite with a group of our friends.  One of our friends, Meghan, had a Dad who was a throw-back hippie.  He loved to drink beer and smoke pot.  He didn’t seem to have a problem drinking beer and smoking pot with us- a bunch of minors.  We set up camp and sat around the campfire all night, toking and drinking, telling wild stories.

Meghan’s Dad had a friend that apparently lived in an RV.  This guy seemed higher than all of us, even at the height of our wildness.  This was Fred the Coke Head.  He was a 57 year old man who consumed drugs like he was a 21 year-old hippie from 1969.  This caricature described his inner-child rather well.

We stayed up all night partying, and at the cracking of twilight Fred broke out some weed, which he said was “special”.  He only invited Madeira and I to partake of it, because he said that we were probably the only ones who could handle it.

He lit up a joint, and we passed it around.  Every hit made me cough like Dr. Dre in 1992.  What ensued was a tingling euphoria that I had never felt before.  It was as if I had taken a bite of Eve’s apple and soared into a realm where I thought I could be a god.

It’s important to say that I’m leaving many details out because I don’t remember them!  That’s how constantly intoxicated I was in these days.

As the sun arose Madiera and I had another encounter in her tent.  We were crazed by the combination of THC and cocaine which we had just inhaled in smoke form…  the first time I had smoked “Chronic”.  I had never felt so torn before.  My emotions were with Harmony, but somehow I found my young, drastically un-sober body with Madiera.  Our encounter ended, and we got no sleep after.  We got in some strange, sleep deprived, strung-out argument shortly afterwards.

On the way home from camping I felt sick within myself.  No amount of marijuana or alcohol or whatever else could mask this feeling.  What was I doing?  I was having a heavy physical relationship with this girl and I wasn’t even sure if I loved her or even really knew her!  All we did was get high and fool around!  Did we even know who the other really was?

I would have to break it off with her.  I was afraid to do it, because I so thoroughly felt physically connected to her because of all we had done…

Shattered, Broken, Beer-Bottle Hearts

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DSCF1857

DSCF1857 (Photo credit: Kdt.)

 

Please fellow readers, don’t be offended, for this is only my opinion, but a lot of the popular music of August 1997 was a disgrace to rock n’ roll.  Again, this is only my opinion!  Sugar Ray’s “Fly” was #1 on the charts in these days.  We heard this song so much on the radio that I thought my head was going to implode.  I would have gladly heard Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat” ringing beneath my eardrums for seven days straight than have one hour of “Fly” by Sugar Ray.  But those suckers in that band knew how to write a catchy, irritating tune!

But I couldn’t hide any longer, and like the irritating melody that it was, the lyrics of “Fly” rang in my mind, providing yet another soundtrack for my love-confused, teenage nicotine heart.

All around the world statues crumble for me

Who knows how long I’ve loved you

I just wanna fly

Put your arms around me baby

I just wanted to fly.  All of the time.  I was stoned practically every waking hour of the day.  Everything in my mental framework was seen through dope vision 3-D glasses.  Who knows how long I had loved my ex-girlfriend and then best friend Harmony.  It seemed like a lifetime to my hormonal self… really it was two years.  Yet here I was, living out a full-on sexual and emotional relationship with my current girlfriend, Madiera.

Madiera and I weren’t only a serious item.  We were pot buddies.  We both loved to get high…  all the time.  Yet I knew that I had to break it off with her…  I knew that my feelings for her were clouded by my desire to be with Harmony.

Harmony and I definitely didn’t talk like we once had throughout most of the summer of 1997.  But when August rolled around she began to appear in my life again.  She was on the verge of her sophomore year, and me my junior year.  She was more beautiful than ever to me.  A young hippie chick with long brown hair who loved Led Zeppelin and smoked weed.  She was my close friend, and the truest love my naïve mind and soul had ever known.

Madiera left for a weekend to go and visit her friend, Andrea, at Bowling Green University in Ohio.  It was my chance to re-connect with Harmony.  I set up a time with her to hang out.  I called her on the phone on a cool summer evening…

“Hey, how’s it going?”  I said,

“Good!  How’s it going Ben!”  She replied in all her perceived luminescent perfection.

After some small talk, I went for it;  “So do you want to go and hang out at the park tomorrow?  The weather’s supposed to be good.  We could have a few beers or something.”

“Uhhhh…  yeah Ben, that’d be alright.  But are you sure you want to drink in the park!  That’s like totally illegal!  You’ve gotten really crazy in these past few months, what happened to you.  And would it be ok with Madiera?  Aren’t you guys still going out?”  She replied.

“Oh no worries.  Madiera knows that me and you are just friends Harmony!  C’mon, it’d be good to hang out!  It’s been too long!  And it’s cool- we’ll find a spot to drink in the park where we won’t get busted.”

“Ok Ben…  then do you want to go to…  Hudson Springs Park?”

I couldn’t believe it.  Was she really into me like I was into her?  She was going to come and hang out with me…  alone, in the park!  And she was going to drink with me…  alone!  In the park!

“Sounds cool to me- wanna meet at like 12 noon?”

“See you then!”

“Ok, bye!”

Adrenaline was surging in my veins as I lit up a cigarette that night after getting off of the phone with Harmony.  I couldn’t wait to see her.  Would I be able to contain myself?  Harmony and I had been friends for two years.  We had dated once for a couple of months.  We had never kissed because I was so nervous around her!  Now here I was, no longer a virgin, and she still was.

It’s difficult to explain the twisted mind that was within my cranium.  I felt that now I was more experienced, I could approach Harmony with more confidence.  I knew she was jealous about Madiera.  I had told her everything…  what Madiera and I had done.  After all, Harmony and I were friends, right?  Yeah right.  I was using the experience to make her jealous.  I thought it would make her want me more.  I was narcissistic, like Pete Townshend wrote and Roger Daltrey sang in The Who‘s “Behind Blue Eyes”;

But my dreams they aren’t as empty

As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely

My love is vengeance

That’s never free

But in all of my vainglory I had a whisper of love.  The Greeks would have called it Eros and Phileos… a combination of romantic and friendship love.  This was a love that I felt heavily for Harmony.  I wasn’t capable of unconditional love…  I had no way to tap into that extreme power…  at least not yet.  My conscience was empty, and the way I expressed my love was all too selfish.  I suppose if I would have actually put Harmony before myself all along she wouldn’t have ever questioned or denied my sincerity or character.  Nonetheless, my chance with her had arrived.

We met at Hudson Springs Park at noon.  It was a cooler summer day in the upper seventies.  I had acquired a six-pack of Molson Golden beer, and had a full pack of fresh Camel Light cigarettes and a blue lighter in my pockets.  I put it in a backpack to remain inconspicuous to any legal bullies roaming about.  Hudson Springs was about a half hour walk from my house, so I went on foot to meet her.  Even though I was sixteen I was literally too lazy and stoned all of the time to try and get my driver’s license.  Plus, I had so many older friends that carted me around it didn’t seem to matter to me.  One caught up in a life of hedonistic addiction doesn’t care about personal progress, as much as they care about the next kick.

And there she was standing in the gleaming daylight, a phosphorescent seraph.  Harmony was beautiful to me.  I was a young kid in a puppy love daze.  I still remember the fuzzy light blue short-sleeve sweater shirt and bell-bottom-like jeans she was wearing, with her long brunette hair parted down the middle.

I had a continual agenda of intoxication.  We quickly walked out into an open field where I knew we were alone.  We broke out the beers and drank them, smoking cigarettes, laughing awkwardly and potentially falling in love all over again, or maybe for the first time mutually.  We each drank three beers.  Harmony and I had a strange, paradoxical innocence in much of what we did, even though much of what we did was not innocent.  We were friends, and we were beginning to become truly more than that.  At one point I just put my arm behind her shoulder and we laid there… looking at the clouds in the sunlit sky and basking in the afterglow of alcohol, hops, and sentiment.

We woke up an hour later.  We had fallen asleep amidst the infatuation and beer buzz.  We laughed about it.  “Whoa, I guess we passed out!”  I said.  “Yeah, that’s totally crazy!”  She replied.

“But I don’t want to be anywhere else”  I said back, with a boldness I had never had before with her.

“I don’t either”  She replied, as my heart pounded with life and vigor.

I remember rolling over and looking into her eyes.  I brushed her hair away from them and almost leaned in to kiss her.

“Wait a minute!”  Harmony said.  “You’re still going out with Madiera…  We can’t do this.”

I sheepishly and unwillingly agreed, so as to appear somewhat honorable.  “Yeah, you’re right.  I need to break up with her.”

Harmony and I walked away from that scene.  It had been a whole two years that I had known her and been completely crazy about her.  We had never kissed before.  We came close to having our first kiss ever but it didn’t happen.  I needed to break the news to Madiera when she came back from Bowling Green.

A Stoner’s Break-Up Story

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Malmo Heartbreak

Malmo Heartbreak (Photo credit: Paul Stuart Iddon)

It was the first week of my Junior Year at Hudson High School.  I knew it had come time to break the news to my then girlfriend Madiera that I was going to break up with her, because I was digging on my ex-girlfriend and best friend Harmony all over again.

Madiera gave me a lift home from school on the day I knew I had to do it.  In usual fashion we packed a glass pipe full of bright green herb and smoked it in her grey Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme as soon as we pulled out of the school.  Ironically, she asked if we could go to Hudson Springs Park to hang out, which was the place I had spent time with Harmony a couple days before.  It was the place where I had realized I wanted to break up with Madiera.  Madiera and I would usually go to the park to fool around and party.  I knew this time was different.  We parked in the parking lot of the park and finished the bowl of weed.  Then we went for a walk down the trail around the bend of Hudson Springs Lake.

I’m doing my best to remember here, because I was stoned constantly in these days, and particularly in this moment..  Madiera and I came to a clearing off of the beaten path of the trail where no one would likely venture.  A lot of the talk was plastered babble of which I don’t remember.  I know she had a look in her eyes like she wanted to kiss me and maybe get something happening.  At some point I said, “We need to talk about something Madiera.”

A dark silver cloud seemed to be cast over us as her demeanor shifted.  “What, Ben?”

I went on to tell her that I wanted to break up with her.  She protested at times in desperation, and in all my shallow manipulation I couldn’t bring myself to hurt her.  I still claimed that I loved her, because somehow I thought it was the right thing to say.  We babbled on in circular stoner language, and she was saturated with shock and anger.  I felt like a toothless weasel.  I’d reach in at times to hug her, not knowing what to do.  She was in anguish.  At some point amidst our mind-baked cackling and rambling she did ask me about Harmony.  I told her we had hung out and I did have feelings for her again.  This enraged Madiera even more.  She wouldn’t believe me that nothing had happened between Harmony and I.  I knew it almost had but luckily we hadn’t completely crossed the line.  Madeira drove me home and we shared deeply awkward goodbyes.

I did find out later that Madiera had hooked up with a guy on the same weekend I had almost kissed Harmony.  She had been at a Frat Party and gotten drunk… ending up osculating (which only means kissing) with some unknown kat with a flat-top hairdo and the 1997 equivalent of Axe ‘Kilo’ body deodorant emanating from his pores.  It made me not feel as bad about what I had done.

But Madiera was heading into her senior year, and we had truly been close friends, though maybe not eternal romantic lovers.  She was heart-broken.  She did slip into heavier drugs shortly after that.  Her anger for me magnified for a time.  I deserved it for what I had done to her heart.  She dated guys sporadically and opened herself to total relational freedom.  Yet I lived my life much like a confused squirrel beside the street pavement of existence- running around aimlessly with only a prayer at not getting smashed by the reality car of absolute authenticity.

Harmony and I were together again.  I felt as if I should update her on the magnitude of drug intake that I was used to.  Harmony liked to smoke a little ganja here and there, but mostly filled her habitual nature with cigarettes… She smoked Marlboro Mediums, and she occasionally dug into mixed cranberry juice and vodka to fill and inebriate her Friday nights.  She was nothing near the caliber of crazy I was.

I was smoking at least $150 worth of high grade pot a month by this time, and usually more.  I was inhaling 15 cigarettes a day, almost a pack.  I was able to consume 9 beers in a couple of hours and mix them with a high amount of dope smoke in and out of my lungs without vomiting for the next hour afterwards, and usually got drunk at least one or two nights a week.  Harmony had to catch up to me.  Now that I had been all the way around the proverbial sexual “bases” in the hanky-panky baseball diamond more than a few times, I would have to convince her to join me in that area too.  I was foolishly excited to get her up to date in my new-found world of vice!

Harmony was not so quick to join me.  She was cautious, and hadn’t violated her own continence like I had.  She was also alarmed by the amount of marijuana that I consumed.  I lied and told her I would cut down a bit.  This just meant that I would smoke more of it by myself than in public.  Thus my habits deepened in the caves of secrecy.

But Harmony was good for me in so many ways compared to where I really was within myself.  She rekindled an inspiration and love in me I felt had been veiled behind a fog for some time.  We would certainly have weekends where we drank a significant amount of vodka and cranberry juice, and sit on her friend Dana’s roof smoking cigarettes.  One night, Harmony got drunk enough to vomit on the roof.  I took care of her to help her feel better.  Secretly I was always more wasted than everyone else around, because I would enter into the party after smoking grass on my own.  My higher tolerance for poison also gave me an ability to look after Harmony and her friends.  They didn’t have the annihilated guts to consume venom like me.  I partied like an insane 22 year old living in Miami, Florida.  I was only 16, and living in the suburbs of Hudson, Ohio.

About every song on the top of the radio in September of 1997 was not to my personal taste, except maybe Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”.  These were days where the thundering guitar and explosive drums of Jimmy Page rang in my ears constantly.  I wanted to live in the world that Robert Plant sang about in “Misty Mountain Hop”;

Walkin’ in the park just the other day, Baby,

What do you, what do you think I saw?

Crowds of people sittin’ on the grass with flowers in their hair said,

“Hey, Boy, do you wanna score?”

And you know how it is;

I really don’t know what time it was,

So I asked them if I could stay awhile.

I was a 16-year old kid and it was 1997.  Something in me longed to meet with these gypsies of the 1960’s and 1970’s, of which Robert Plant seemed to speak about…  these songs spoke to me of a concocted utopia where people constantly took drugs, rapped about wild philosophy and listened to music.  I wanted to recreate that world in my little sphere.  My hair was longer…  almost to the point of pulling it behind my ears.  I bought more tie-dyed shirts.  I longed for the world of Woodstock and the hippies to come alive in my existence.

I didn’t know the darkness that lurked, unveiled behind this façade of beauty and hedonistic freedom.  I was attracted by the outer skin of it, and not the inner soul of the beast that hid himself behind.

The Guy With the Bong

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A bong with a circular carburation port in the...

A bong with a circular carburation port in the front of the bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yep, back in my Junior Year of High School, I was “the guy with the bong”.

My girlfriend Harmony and I were seemingly doing getting along as winter crept into the year of 1997.  She had a greater moral conscience than I, and refused to give in to sex and rampant drug abuse.  We fooled around on the edge of these things, but she always kept her standards higher than mine.  At the time, I was somewhat frustrated, but held her in such high esteem that I chose to respect her wishes.  Looking back now, I realize that she was doing the honorable thing.  Yet in a culture that appeared then as it is now; driven by sexual tension and immediate gratification, it was more than difficult to maintain such a level of perspective without some sacrosanct sentient being empowering us.  I was driven by mere carnal knowledge and the hunger of now…  the present need…  genitive satisfaction.  Therefore, God gave me up in the lust of my heart to impurity, to the dishonoring of my body among anyone who would join with me. (Rom. 1:24)

After all, my views about God were varied.  In my mind, “He” could have been an “It” or “She” or even an alien or unseen cosmic force.  I wasn’t sure that God existed.  In some of my more paranoid moments I may have questioned whether God was there or not.  Mostly, I felt that God was some impersonal type of force that got kicks out of watching people on the earth make a mess of themselves.  I may have pulled this idea from Greek myth, because the Greeks believed that their gods were truly making a mockery of them and out to play tricks on and destroy the people they had authority of.  Mostly God to me at this time was a figment of my imagination.

I could have written the lyrics myself to “Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground.  (Go ahead and play the video, you know you’ve got to hear it again fellow 90’s junkies!)  www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KT-r2vHeMM

I smell sex and candy here

Who’s that lounging in my chair

Who’s that casting devious stares

In my direction

Mama this surely is a dream

I was living in a pseudo-dream world.  THC from constant marijuana smoke was consistently floating around in my brain, causing wild philosophical madness, strange dark creativity and depression, as well as apathy, sloth, lapsed superego reactionary prowess, and a deep narcissism and hedonism that stole my entire being and spread around my soul like red food dye in a glass of ice water.

Along came New Year’s Eve, 1997 to 1998.  I worked carry-out with all my friends who were employed at Tai-Wah Chinese Restaurant.  It was the busiest night of Chinese carry-out all year.  We were slinging Sweet & Sour Chicken, Beef & Broccoli, Egg Foo Young, and Fried Rice like wild ping-pong players on speed.  We knew the reward would come, a New Year’s Eve Party at Cynthia Plum’s house complete with endless alcohol and reckless abandonment.

We got out of work after a busy night.  I was such a bum in these days that I didn’t bother to change out of my work clothes.  After all, I was the guy with the bong.  Mitchell, Harmony, Doug Rankin, Chris Plummer, Dinah Sortec, and others all piled into cars and we headed over to Cynthia Plum’s house, ready for wildness.

I was the guy with the purple bong.  I had a quarter ounce of strong weed all saved up and ready to diminish throughout the evening and share with whoever was ready and willing.  I packed up a bong and filled it with cran-grape juice on the car ride over.  A couple of friends took a hit or two, and then began to quit on me.  “C’mon man!”  I yelled in my stoner accent, “It’s New Year’s guys, don’t quit on me!”

Misery loves company folks.  I was so constantly high, that I couldn’t take it when people didn’t want to party themselves sick and crazy just like me.  I finished the bong by myself nonetheless, and the party had begun.

The night was filled with a haze of nicotine and THC smoke, beers being “bonged” down my throat, or in other words swallowed in one gulp, with the help of poking a hole in the bottom, and cracking open the can at the top, while sucking down the cheap barley and hops through the hole.  We only drank Natural Ice or Milwaukee’s Best beer, the cheapest and most similar to urine-flavored beer on the market.  We just wanted to get a buzz and lose our inhibitions.

At one point in the during the night I went out in the snow covered Northeast Ohio night to take a leak in the woods.  I don’t know why I didn’t choose Cynthia Plum’s restroom to do so.  I think I just wanted to go outside and look at the stars.  I did gaze at the stars when I had found a pine tree to take a whiz on.  I gazed up, thinking, “man I am SOOOO wasted!”  I was lost in the universe and eternal supernova sky above.

I walked in and exclaimed, “Hey guys!  Ready for some more weed?  Hahahahahaha!>(**#&$”

I had my bong raised in the air.

Everyone pointed down toward my pelvic area and began to laugh hysterically.  I looked down and realized that I had tinkled all over my pants.  I suppose I hadn’t aimed very well and hit a pine branch that had sent it down my pant-leg.  “Oh man guys, I didn’t pee myself man!  I totally just missed when I wizzed outside!”  There were no explanations that could save me at this point.  My friends just continued to point and laugh.  Luckily Harmony had gone home by this point so she wouldn’t have to witness my humiliation.

I begged Cynthia Plum for a pair of her father’s pants.  She only said, “Sorry Ben, you’re on your own! …”  She looked down at my pants again and exclaimed,   “So gross!”  I spent the rest of the night in a basement room, by myself, smoking Camel cigarettes…  the lyrics of “Sex and Candy” ringing in my head.

Mama this surely is a dream, yeah

Mama this surely is a dream, dig it

Midnight came and went without me.  Eventually I got a ride home.  I don’t really remember.  I only know that the pee had dried and I passed out in someone’s backseat like a crazy vagrant.

The Psychedelic Orchestra Bus

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The Common Vision Bus

The Common Vision Bus (Photo credit: Vicki & Chuck Rogers)

In the Spring of 1998 The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” was high on the charts.  My life was a reflection of it’s message.

No change, I can’t change

I can’t change, I can’t change

But I’m here in my mind

I am here in my mind

And I’m a million different people

from one day to the next

I can’t change my mind

No, no, no, no, no, no, no

I can’t change

I can’t change it

I was truly lost in my own mind.  I was truly “a million different people from one day to the next”, and didn’t really feel I needed an identity anymore.  I was who ever I was around.  I was wherever the party was.

I had never felt before as much as I did then that I was literally rolling with the wind.  It seemed wherever my feelings led me was where I would go.  I had no rules, and no boundaries.  My days were a blur, a mysterious haze of the unknown.  All up until this point in my addictive pattern I hadn’t really had many “sobering moments”.  It’s funny how drugs do this to a person’s mind.  The beginning stages of partying came with a few intense consequences…  I got busted and arrested.  I got into dysfunctional relationships, my grades in school were sinking, and my relationship with my parents was more strained every day.

However, the lure of being high always drew me back in.  None of these things seemed like fair enough warnings at the time.  I got busted, so I would find a way to lie and sneak around more…  which could have potentially gotten me into more trouble but I didn’t care.

I got into dysfunctional friendships and relationships with girls, so I found a way to keep them seemingly functional by lying and partying with these people all of the time.  It’s funny when you begin to surround yourself with “drug buddies”.  They feel like real friends, but really you’re just on the same substances all the time, and without the substances the connection could be lost.  In the middle of the party scene it’s so hard to tell who your real friends are, because everyone seems like they either want something from you or are out to get you.

My grades in school were falling apart, but I was convinced that it didn’t matter.  I assured myself that I would probably be a famous rock n’ roll tragedy someday, like Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix.  Who needed good grades when they were headed for a life beyond anything school could offer?  I didn’t have a plan to go to college.  I wanted to get high and make art.  I didn’t care anymore if I made some great impact on the world, and if I did, it would be my own ascent to notoriety and subsequent fall to chaos and oblivion.  Or…  I would work at a Burger joint or something…

My relationship with my parents almost seemed non-existent.  They were workaholics.  At this time in our lives they fought and swore at each other all of the time.  We never talked.  We avoided each other at home.  They never asked me how my day was going.  I would leave the house all night and come home at 10pm, which was my curfew on school nights, and 12pm, which was my curfew on weekends (I realize how lenient this was now!)  Normally, I would show up an hour late.  My Mom would get in my face about it, and I would blow her off and go up into my room.  I was behaving like some adult far before his time, though in so many ways I was a little boy.

Junior year in High School was certainly a time when all my peers were beginning to think about their “future”.  People all around me were studying hard, signing up for college courses they could take in High School to get ahead of the time, and starting to look at where they might apply for colleges.  I, on the other hand, was the guy with a bong and a guitar.  Though to be honest, I hadn’t played the guitar much lately…  Secretly, I resented my peers as they moved forward in life, and left their trail of dust in my stoned face.

And beyond all of this, psychedelic drugs were now a part of my life.  At the time I was convinced that LSD was some sort of window into a new world, a spiritual door.  I resonated with people like Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey who seemed to think that LSD opened up ones mind to the hidden spiritual forces within and without.  During late 1966 and early 1967, Leary toured college campuses presenting a multi-media performance “The Death of the Mind”, which attempted to artistically replicate the LSD experience. Leary said the League for Spiritual Discovery was limited to 360 members and was already at its membership limit, but he encouraged others to form their own psychedelic religions. He published a pamphlet in 1967 called Start Your Own Religion, to encourage people to do so. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Leary)

Much like Timothy Leary, I wanted to show people about my new religious experience.  I was ready to turn others on to this weird drug, and really believed that I was helping them.  It seemed easy to adopt this religious view at the time, because I grew up being told to find or create my own spiritual path.  There was no thought that I could blaze a legitimate trail to any sort of salvation or redemptive love during this period in my life.  If I would have known what was about to transpire in my mind  in the next few months, I may have thought twice about the journey I was undertaking.

The Orchestra, under the leadership of the sweet and gentle Mrs. Bush, was to take a bus trip to Chicago to compete in a regional orchestra competition.  My good friend Mitchell and I were both in the orchestra together, along with a number of our friends.  Of course, I hatched up a crazy plan to turn this entire trip into a psychedelic experience.  We had an 8-hour bus ride, and 2 days in Chicago.  The choir would be travelling from Cleveland to Chicago too, right in a bus behind us.  My girlfriend at the time, Harmony, was in the choir and on that bus.

Since I had embarked upon the LSD experience, Harmony and I began to experience turmoil in what seemed to be a close friendship and dating relationship.  After her bad reaction to the first time I had taken a trip, I had decided to keep all my trips a secret.  Since that time I had done acid about 3 times, and never told her.  In my mind I was hoping that she would eventually decide to try it herself and then she would join me.  I figured until then the secret would hurt no one.

So naturally, I told all the friends who were dropping acid with me not to let the secret out to Harmony.  This is how a ball of lies begins to spin out of control.  It’s like a snowball at the top of a mountain covered with snow, and as it rolls on in turns into an uncontrollable avalanche.  The torrent hadn’t arrived yet, but the momentum was building.

So we set out for Chicago on a high quality bus, which the orchestra had completely for ourselves.  The inside of the bus looked like the interior of an airplane, comfy seats, bathrooms, and wide windows.  I was thinking at the time that this would be an amazing “trip”- with the double meaning intended.

I had sat next to Mitchell, and our friend Adam, and older friend Dirk, who was a senior and deeply into the drug scene.  They had all agreed to try this crazy drug on the bus ride.  It was an 8-hour trip, which was exactly how long the drug would usually last.  Mitchell, Dirk and I took some.  Adam was pensive.  The bus hit the road towards Chicago.

As mine began to kick in I had a conversation with Adam.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to try it.  “I just don’t know, Ben!”  He said.  “I mean, everybody knows me as this good Catholic kid who loves Jesus and gets good grades…  but I have this side of me that just wants to get high and now even try this…  what should I do?”

Adam must have been looking for a reason to go against his conscience.  After all, he was asking me, Benny White, to give him advice on whether he should keep being a “good kid”, or delve more deeply into the abyss.

“Look man.”  I said, “If anything at all bro, this stuff will make your spiritual life better.  It’s the most amazing experience someone could ever have.  Who knows, maybe it will bring you closer to Jesus!”

I can’t believe the things I used to say.  If I would have known that Adam would have become immersed in the drug scene and given up his faith in Jesus, maybe I would have had a different piece of advice.  I was like the serpent at the tree of knowledge, and it wasn’t long before Adam put the little piece of paper on his tongue and joined us on our kaleidoscopic bus ride.

It’s important to say that I had no real deep thoughts about God or the afterlife during this time.  Jesus was just a vague religious figure to me.  He didn’t have any significance as anyone with deity or preeminence- those things were open to the eye of the beholder in my view then.  If I ever had thoughts about God, they were strange, creative, random ideas about who He/She/It might be.  I didn’t know or think of God as a person that could be understood.  The only times that I had thoughts about any moral failing and desperation were moments when I had upset my girlfriend, Harmony, or when I was having a moment of self-loathing.  These moments may have driven me to some form of penitence, but if things went back to smooth sailing for me I would quickly be able to return to a state of wanton hedonism.  I didn’t care about cosmic consequences or some type of divine purpose, because I was ignorant of these things.

I imagine that we came off like a bunch of goofy fools to every other participant in the Hudson High School orchestra on that bus.  But when someone is that high, at times they can be completely unaware of their surroundings.  I don’t remember much, but I’m sure we were blurting out things that made no sense and acting crazy.

There is one thing I remember vaguely.  We stopped at a rest stop to get lunch, and the choir bus behind us stopped too.  Harmony approached me and asked me to have a cigarette with her.  I nervously agreed, feeling out of control.

As we spent time talking I must have been babbling in strange riddles and acting scary and zoned out.  She asked me what the heck was the matter with me.  I told her I had smoked some pot before the bus trip.  She looked at me with suspicion.  The lies continued.

The bus made it to Chicago.  We spent time hanging out at the hotel, of which I don’t remember much at all.  I do remember that night though.  We had more hits of acid with us, and were planning on taking them when we visited the Art Institute of Chicago.  Mitchell and I were always the impulsive and crazy ones though.  As we were coming off of the other trip, we decided to take 2 hits each of this other stuff we had…  at midnight.  We were rooming with Adam and another friend, Brett Smith.  We didn’t tell them what we had done, though they obviously figured it out later.

They were sharing a bed and Mitchell and I were on the floor in sleeping bags.  As they tried to get to sleep the acid kicked in.  We were up all night giggling like little boys, and mocking Adam and how he behaved on the drug while we rode the bus.  He had heard every word we said, and they had gotten no sleep because of us.  Mitchell and I stayed up all night, hallucinating in the dark…  looking at the streetlights casting shadows on the wall.  We got up in the morning as the sun came up, and walked into the parking lot, feeling like we had been through hell.

Adam confronted us about how we had slandered him the next morning, and we felt like jerks… sort of.  We were so high we thought he couldn’t hear us.  Hard drugs really do make one unaware and careless about other people’s feelings.

Mitchell and I hadn’t entered slumber land for an entire night, and we were then carted in a bus to downtown Chicago.  Mrs. Bush unleashed us on Michigan Avenue, the main drag of metro-Chicago, and told us to meet back at a certain time to visit the art museum.  Mitchell and I were completely out of it.  Dirk thought we were idiots for taking LSD the night before, and he was certainly right.  I was about to be introduced to a new drug as the effects of sleep deprivation psychosis kicked in.

Dirk had these little pills that went by the name of “Adderall”.  He crushed one up for me and told me to snort it, and it would keep me awake.  These were prescribed to kids who had ADHD, and had methamphetamine in them.  He told me it was a light version of speed, and would keep me wide-eyed.  I told him, “Dirk, I’ve never snorted anything before!”  I had always sworn that I would never do anything like that.  Dirk assured me, “Don’t worry man, it’s as harmless as a cup of coffee bro.”  For some reason I believed him.  Again, in the mind of an addict the consequences are never clear, but just the immediate gratification of the moment.

I snorted 20 mg. of Adderall and woke up instantly.  We went to the Art Institute and Dirk and Adam took acid.  The museum was certainly filled with incredible art, and they mocked us more for not waiting to do the drug there.  Adam had forgiven us, at least in appearance, for what we had said about him the night before.  We trudged our way through the art museum, a bunch of unhinged teenagers as we were.

Later that night we went to the orchestra competition.  It had been a long day.  I had blown my mind apart with drugs, and was rapidly deteriorating from the Adderall.  It came time to give our orchestra performance.  We waited for our turn to set up, and before long it was time to play.

The melody of the strings lilted in my mind like a cacophony of slithering amphibians and gooey pudding in my mind.  I was so out of it that I couldn’t even make out the refrains and changes in melody.  This was odd for me, because music had always been such a passion of mine.  But I hadn’t even written a song in months…  my life had become engrossed in the LSD experience.  I was lost.  I was floating like a dingy feather into the ethereal wasteland of the stratosphere.

These thoughts rolled through my mind, and all of a sudden everyone was staring at me…  “Your cue is coming up!”  Dirk whispered to me.  Before I could even think where we were in the piece, I took the handles of the Zildjan cymbals in front of me, and clanged them together with great force… completely off beat.  Mrs. Bush stared and me in shock, and rolled her eyes.  Everyone in the orchestra tried to keep from laughing.  We got last place in the competition.

We got a night of sleep that night, and it wasn’t nearly enough.  Then we awoke early to head home the next day.  I hadn’t barely seen Harmony the entire time we were on the trip.  I was avoiding her for fear she would find me out.  We did make a stop on the way home and I found her.  She looked so mad at me I almost couldn’t look her in the eye.  I had been doing more of Dirk’s Adderall to try and stay alert.  Harmony came up to me and looked me straight into my bloodshot, dilated-pupil eyeballs and said, “Ben, you look like crap.  You look like you got run over by a truck.”  Of course I back-peddled.  “Oh Harmony man…  ha ha…  I’m just all tired and stuff.”  I said this as I was in a rushed speedy frenzy.  “Ben…”  She replied, “What are you on?  You don’t even seem like yourself!  I feel like I don’t even know you anymore!”

“Look Harmony, I’m cool!  I’m just tired, ok?”

“Yeah whatever Ben!  You’re a LIAR!  That’s what you are!”

“Fine!  Just leave me alone then!”

(Of course there were many variegated epithets used in our dialogue which I’m not displaying here.)

We boarded the bus and continued our ride home.  I was more depressed than ever.  Would Harmony dump me?  Would she find out that I was snorting pills and eating acid every weekend?  There had to be a way to keep her in the dark, I thought.  My whole life was beginning to collapse.  Everything that mattered to me was crumbling.  I looked out into the rainy night and the streetlights that lined the route 80 turnpike.  The “Welcome to Ohio” sign rolled up past us.  We were on our way home, but in so many ways, I was further from home than ever.

My Bad Trip on LSD

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LSD

LSD (Photo credit: Max Sparber)

Acid is a mysterious, strange, and unpredictable drug.  I know a varied audience of mixed background and belief will read what I write, so it’s so important not to lie.  There are times when one takes acid, or any other drug for that matter, and it feels in that moment as if it’s the greatest, most euphoric, meaningful experience of your life.  However, there is no guarantee of this happening consistently.

Drugs are the ultimate Russian roulette of the mind.  For the extreme magnification of ecstasy, meaning and inner revelation that can come from drug experiences, there is also the extreme opposite.  When one has a bad drug experience it is REALLY terrible.  There have been many people who have never returned home to the cocoon of sanity after having a bad trip or a number of bad trips on LSD.  This is the great deception.  For further thoughts on why I believe a great force of evil is behind the lure of drugs, read this post:http://benjaminbradfordwhite.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/satan-is-a-drug-dealer…-reflections-on-genesis-225-37/

Syd Barrett, who was the original singer in the band, Pink Floyd, was an example of a man who completely lost his mind on LSD and psychedelics.  Many have said that he was also schizophrenic.  I’m not sure whether that is true or not, but I do know that the guy did an ungodly amount of acid in a very short period of time.  He became like a walking vegetable by the time that the end of 1967 rolled around.

Just as the Pink Floyd were becoming an international hit on the music scene, Syd Barrett tripped himself into oblivion.  Here we can see him on “American Bandstand” being interviewed by the late, great Dick Clark:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MMMN0VZmYw

You can see from this old piece of film that there was a “look in his eye, like black holes in the sky” as the lyric about him from “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” stated in 1975.

It’s strange to say it now, but around the time of the summer of 1998, I became enthralled with the story of Syd Barrett and his brain’s demise in the midst of psychedelic pop stardom.  I found books and archives about him.  I listened to his solo music after he had gone off his rocker.  I mostly listened to “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, Pink Floyd’s seminal first album, where Syd was at his creative height.

I suppose it was a combination of anger, marginalization by friends, estrangement from my parents, and bewilderment towards the existence of God that led me towards wanting to “ride the edge” of sanity.  As the summer of 1998 kicked in… my summer before senior year of high school, I delved into the most extreme use of psychedelics ever.  I quit my job at Tai-Wah restaurant, and pledged to “trip” my way through the summer.  I hadn’t viewed yet into the wisdom of Solomon, when he said, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”  (Ecclesiastes 1:14)

Quite the contrary, I believed that my pursuit was full of meaning at the time.  Somehow I believed I would come out on the other end a changed person… for the better.  The words of the ancient prophet Isaiah didn’t ring in my ears; “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)  I suppose, in ignorance, I believed that everything I was about to encounter was good, full of radiant light and sweet to the taste.  All of my experiences on psychedelics had been good thus far, and I didn’t think I would go too far like Syd Barrett did.  I would just skim the crest of the cliff of craziness.

At this point, I was playing drum set in a steel drum band with a group of my friends.  The band was loosely affiliated with our High School, but we played almost all of our events outside of the school.

The greatest gig we ever did was playing at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s annual summer art parade.  It was a sunny, hot and humid Ohio day~ ninety degrees and clear skies.  David Wilt was in the band.  At this time he was my regular supplier of psychedelic drugs.  He had hits of blotter acid with him, and I bought a few from him.  We egged each other on that we ought to take it before we played in the parade.  Of course it didn’t take much to convince each other, David took a hit, and I took 2, about an hour before we were going to play.  At this point, even David was more sensible than me.  He didn’t want to be too out of it while we played in the parade.  I wanted to be completely delirious.

We had all our instruments on a long, rectangular float.  As we set everything up I began to feel my body going numb.  Our band’s director, Mark Bush, asked me if I wanted to play the drum set or push the float in the parade.  I mumbled in spaced-out confusion, “Uhhhh…  yeah man I think I’ll push the float man.”

This parade was the craziest parade I’ve ever seen, especially because of my state of mind.  There were people walking around on stilts with wild, colorful masks and streamers flowing behind them in the wind.  The masks were representative of many different cultures of the world:  Chinese dragons, Indian elephants, African tribal witch doctors, and native American eagles.  The colors were of starburst yellow, purple indigo, crimson red, electric orange, and many more.

We made our way into the parade.  I was pushing one end of the float and a girl, Darby Plum was on the other end of this rectangular apparatus.  As we moved on in the parade and played our Caribbean style, Jamaican, reggae-funk, the acid started to beat down in my brain.  Right in the middle of the parade, I was experiencing what is called the “peak” of my trip, where the effects of the drug were the strongest.

I literally felt like I was in Candy Land, all of these freaky people on stilts with masks on making a child-like visual landscape before my wild eyes, I was enthralled beyond description.  There were moments where I literally stopped in the middle of the parade, just to stare at all that was happening around me.  Yet I also had a duty, to push this float.  A simple duty it would seem, but there were times when the float would reach a 45 degree angle, with Darby Plum doing her job pushing on the other side, and me standing there, a long haired hipped-out kid with his tie-dye shirt on, staring at these gallivanting masked minions which practically seemed to be staring into my soul.  I barely was able to do my job of pushing this float through the parade, because I kept stopping to stare at all that was going on.  I had the whole band on my case too, saying, “C’mon Benny!  What are you doing?  Push the float!!!”

So we made it to the end of the parade, and I don’t really remember much of what happened after.  This was one of the best LSD experiences I ever had, because the visual display and happy feeling at the parade was so positive.  Granted, I did an embarrassing job of pushing the float along, but I wasn’t in any way traumatized by the experience.  This is the great trickery that lurks within the pursuit of drug “enlightenment”.  One has experiences that lead them into perpetual beguilement.  I was thinking to myself, “Man, LSD is the greatest thing that exists!  I can’t wait to have another trip!”  But one can never predict the situation they will find themselves in.

But much like a mountain climber who wants to defy the odds and reach a higher peak of danger, I wanted to go deeper into the rabbit hole…  I was about to have my first bad trip…

It was a dark and dreary July evening.  My friend Mitchell had come over to my house to help me record guitar tracks on a song that I had been working on for 3 months… the only song I had recorded in the past 3 months…  an 8 minute opus called “Trilogy”.  Again, I was the kind of guy that wrote 4 or 5 songs a month at least back then, and psychedelic drugs had put me on a weird tailspin, giving me a deep, confusing case of writers’ block.

I had scored 2 hits of acid the week before at an infamous hole full of hardcore hippies and drug dealers called “Nelson’s Ledges”.  These were where the hard-core druggies spent a lot of time.  I went there to jump off of a 15-foot cliff into the deep water below, and had run into some space pirate hippies that sold me two hits of what they called “Wizard of Oz” blotter acid.  They told me it was really strong, and recommended taking only one hit.

While Mitchell and I were recording, I popped both hits on my tongue.  Within 30 minutes, I began to feel the numbing effects and body buzz taking over my entire anatomy, and it was peculiar, because it normally had taken an hour before.  Mitchell was finishing up his guitar tracks.  At one point, he looked at me and said, “Are you alright man?  You look kind of freaked out!”  I tried to ignore the fear that this statement had instilled in me, but I was alarmed that this LSD was stronger than I was ready for.

The next memory I had was being at a party, about an hour later.  This party was full of drunken people that had once been friends of mine.  Because of my heavier drug use, they had distanced themselves from me.  I remember a moment when Braden Sipes came up to talk to me.  He was drunk and mocking me, saying, “So Benny, how you been buddy?  You been “TOKING IT UP” lately huh?  Hahaha…”  The words seemed to echo and his face distorted as he said it.  All around him, shadow mites of darkness swirled around in a tornado of madness.  I barked back at him;  ”DON’T MOCK ME OR I’LL STRANGLE YOU RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!!!”

It was as if a phantom had entered into me in that moment.  Some kind of demon of a dark force of which I knew nothing of.  I only know that this moment of anger seemed to overtake my entire brain and body at that moment, and I had no awareness of who I was.  Braden stared back at me in fear for a moment, and then walked away…

The trip continued, and is a blur in my memory.  I know that the effects of the LSD went completely haywire.  I was in a dark fantasy world of which I had no control, nor escape.  The people I saw contorted into minions…  the very air I breathed seemed to be filled with acidic poison.  The back of my brain felt like it was melting off of my head.  I didn’t know then that LSD physically made your brain hemorrhage.  I only felt completely out of control.  I remembered reading of Mephistopheles in the legend of Faust.  Had I been overcome by some dark angel like him?  Would I ever make it out of this state of mind, or was I doomed to wear a straightjacket in a little white room for the rest of my life?

The profound, dark thoughts seemed to overcome my mind like a swarm of wasps…

The next memory I had was 3 hours later, being in my parents’ living room.  It was midnight, and somehow, my friend, Duane, had come to keep me company.  We were watching a re-run of the show, “The Wonder Years” on TV.  Whatever I thought in my mind, the main character of the show, Kevin Arnold, would become before my very eyes.  I thought of the Ku Klux Klan for some weird reason, and he grew a hood on the TV.  I thought of a werewolf, and he turned into one before my very eyes.  I told Duane, “I’m freaking out man!  I can’t control my mind…  I hate this man!”

Duane looked at me in bewilderment.  He was tired from smoking pot earlier, and told me he had to go home.  After all, it was midnight and he had a curfew to keep.  I begged him to stay with me and not leave me alone.  ”Duane, please man.  You can’t go.  I will die man, I WILL DIE!”

Nonetheless, Duane had to obey his parents’ rules.  He went home.  I was left to myself and the effects of this evil drug.

I looked on the ground in my parents living room as I sat there alone, and afraid out of my mind…  What appeared to be glowing ravens engulfed in fire began to appear in a pattern all over the floor and the walls.  They were intertwined in a pattern of hieroglyphics.  I looked on my hand and they were imprinted all over me as well.  I felt for certain that I was about to die and these patterns I was seeing represented all the horrible things I had done.  I sensed that a swift judgment was about to come upon me.  I was doomed… cursed.  There was no way out and I would leave this life condemned forever.

I tried to make my way through the night.  I had no one I could reach out to…  at least not that I was aware of…  I so desperately wanted to call my girlfriend Harmony, but it was 2 a.m.  I was sitting there in my bed freaking out, seeing the scroll of my life laid out before me in an interconnected life pattern that engulfed all of reality and nature.

The Goo Goo Dolls song “Iris” was high on the charts in those days, and it’s chorus accurately described this profound alienation:

And I don’t want the world to see me

Cause I don’t think that they’d understand

When everything’s made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

I just wanted someone, anyone to be there for me.  I was too afraid to reach out to a higher power of any sort.  I felt too condemned, too dirty, too crazy and broken.  I wrote Harmony a long letter, describing my fear.  That carried me until 3 a.m.  Then I pulled out a VHS tape that contained the movie, “Forrest Gump”.  I began watching the 3 hour long feature to try and calm my fretful heart and mind.  From the moment where the feather began to lilt in the wind in the opening credits I was pulled into this movie like never before.  I cried practically the entire time it was on.  I was afraid for my soul…

As the sun arose at around 5:57 a.m. and the feather lilted in the air during the closing credits of “Forrest Gump”, I realized that the acid was finally beginning to wear down, and my wearied body would finally be able to sleep.  I cried as I watched the sunrise, and had a moment where I was simply thankful to be alive, and sane.

I had no understanding or knowledge of any religion or spirituality at this time.  But this profound feeling was very real.  I learned only years later that I was experiencing something on earth that Jesus talked often about…  This video is a very grim, but accurate picture of the way hell is truly described in the ancient scriptures:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxCKxxRU_s8

Eating LSD for Breakfast, and Experiencing Hell

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Mayor Hall and Lucifer

Mayor Hall and Lucifer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I slipped into deeper depression in the Fall of 1998 than I had ever experienced before.  The summer seemed like a vague memory, and all quests for the omniscient faded into a vague fog behind me.  I had tasted and seen of the chemical darkness.  I was going to jump back down into the chasm of addiction more deeply than ever.

I was a senior in High School.  I was failing all of my classes, and I didn’t care at all.  I didn’t do homework or put in effort.  I may have had little stints where I would try and be sober and grades would start to rise, but then something would happen again and I’d be back to my old tricks.  Just to illustrate well, I was taking seventh grade math in sixth grade, and by twelfth grade I was taking tenth grade math, so I had officially fallen three years back academically.

Because of my misfit academic career, I was in a freshman level geology class.  I was the only senior there.  I had long hair far past my shoulders by this time, which was pulled behind my ears and swooping out on the edges.  I had a goatee that made me look a bit like a devil, and always wore psychedelic shirts featuring the Grateful Dead, the Beatles, Zildjan cymbals, and bands like Yes and Rush.

My girlfriend Harmony and I had broken up.  I was a scholastic ignoramus.  My creative passion for writing and creating music was at an all time low.  My addicted mind could only go back to the desire to do harder drugs again.  I had lost my way towards joy even more than before, and could not sleep unless I had done wrong; I was robbed of sleep unless I had made someone stumble. (Prov. 4:16)

These are how my nights before slumber went; I would lie awake with a guilty conscience, restless.  I would have to drink a beer or pack a pipe full of pot and smoke it just to sleep.  If not, I would be left to my thoughts.  Regrets would swarm around my mind like a legion of angry yellow-jackets, stinging my brain.  I would think of my parents, and how we had come to despise each other so much that we constantly fought, yelled and cursed.  I would think of my ex-girlfriend Harmony and the fact that she had found a new boyfriend.  I would think of all the people I had dragged down, who were living a drug infested life because of my influence.  It was too overwhelming to bear, so I would medicate myself once again, just for a night of inebriated slumber.

I was stoned all day, every day, mocked by those younger than me in High School.  I started to take LSD more intensely than before.  I would eat it in the mornings before school for breakfast with a bowl of Frosted Mini-wheats and a joint for dessert.  I would end up in strange situations at school every day…

One time I was in geology class, on acid, and having a rather bad experience on it.  We had a teacher, Mrs. Albee, who was a kind, loving and compassionate lady.  She even put up with my strange antics in class, trying to love and understand me (while occasionally making a joke towards me, which was completely understandable!).  On this day, I was having a very bad moment in my trip.  The walls were breathing, and dark shadows were everywhere, as if the power of hell was alive in the room.  I noticed something strange about Mrs. Albee.  She had what looked like a white force field around her, and none of these dark shadows and images could penetrate it.  It scared me so badly that I actually yelled out, “Whoa!!”  Then I came out of the intense wave of the drug, only to realize that an entire class of freshman were laughing at me, this crazy drug-addled maniac who had just publicly exposed his madness.

I found out later, that Mrs. Albee was a follower of Jesus…

Another time, I was on LSD with my friend, Kristian, who was angry about his Mom divorcing his Dad and leaving his home in Orange County, California, to move in with his new stepdad, whom he hated thoroughly.  In all his bitterness, Kristian would often join me on these drug escapades.  We were tripping, and I pulled my car, a 1988 Buick LeSabre with 250,000 miles on it, into his driveway (I had finally obtained my driver’s license at the age of 17).  We got out of the car and locked the doors, and I realized that I had left the keys in the ignition, with the car still running.

“Oh man, what are we gonna do???”  I exclaimed.

“Dude I don’t know!”  Kristian replied.

We knew that we would have to call the cops to unlock the door, and I had drugs and paraphernalia in every crevice of that car.  I grabbed a baseball bat from Kristian’s garage, and smashed the small, triangular window behind the rear passenger window, to bits.  We unlocked the doors and turned the car off, then duct-taped the window with grey tape.  Things like this put my flagrant drug habit on display for the world to see.  They used to call my car “The Shwag Wagon”, and people would flip a coin to not have to sit by the cold, duct-taped window while riding with me into dens of mayhem.

Deep down, I was coming apart at the seams.  I would use LSD 2 or 3 times a week, even during school.  All the friends I once had became afraid of me, because I was going crazy.  I was depressing and frightening to be around, I’m sure.

My trips began to go into a deeper realm of darkness than ever before.  There would be times when I would see skeleton shaped heads weaved into the carpet in my room.  I would stare at the floor and it would turn into a frightening scene- souls in turmoil who were being tormented in a place of punishment.  When I would see images like this, I’d ask those who were tripping around me, “Dude, do you see that?”  They would always reply, “Yeah, totally.”  We’d then describe the hallucination in detail to each other, realizing we were seeing the same thing.

This is why I believe that LSD uncovers a spiritual world that is hidden from us in every day life.  It is not a world of beauty and kaleidoscopic wonder.  It is a dark world, bereft of light and joy.  I would read of a place three years later that seemed similar to this place, a place that Jesus talked of in Luke 16:23.

As I entered the vile sub-culture of acid-freaks, I would hear stories of trips worse than my own.  One thing each person seemed to have in common was that they would literally experience hell.  I had a friend, a drug dealer, that took so much acid one day that he literally saw Satan jump out of the ground and rip his heart out before his very eyes.  I had another friend that went to an underworld, where he saw demons and minions gnawing at the souls of men.  Mind you, many of us had no belief in these things, but this drug would cause us to experience them.  I, for one, had no knowledge of the Bible or any religious upbringing or instruction, so it couldn’t have been a figment of my imagination.  The whole world of it was just plain strange and scary.

This is the cycle of addiction.  As Lenny Kravitz sang in November of 1998 on my Buick Lesabre radio in Cleveland Ohio, dialed to 100.7 WMMS radio;

I wish that I could fly

Into the sky

So very high

Just like a dragonfly

I’d fly above the trees

Over the seas in all degrees

To anywhere I please

Oh I want to get away

I want to fly away

And that was me.  I just wanted to experience an altered reality.  Even a dark reality deceived me into being better than my own.

Before you run to judge the life of a drug addict, remember this; They are enticed into a hole that they don’t feel they can dig themselves out of.  Sometimes the reality they have created for themselves is worse than the reality within their addiction.  They are truly stuck in hell.  Escape seems like a better route than dealing with all the destroyed friendships and family relationships.  It’s a vicious cycle.  An addict needs someone to penetrate through all that garbage, and give them a dose of reality and honesty, laced with love and compassion.  God gives this stuff out freely, and uses His true followers to dispense it on others.

Tripping into Madness at the House of Viking Chaos

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Ludovico technique apparatus.

Ludovico technique apparatus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was Halloween of 1998.  A psychedelic fall array of color had blanketed the landscape of Ohio.  The tree canopies of red, yellow and orange would dance around in my hemorrhaged brain like colorful quilts and tapestries arranged on dirty walls.

In October of 1998, Shirley Manson from the band “Garbage” sang these words on the radio; “I fall down just to give you a thrill, Prop me up with another pill, If I should fail, if I should fold, I nailed my faith to the sticking pole.”

Kent, Ohio was a twenty-five minute drive away from my hometown of Hudson, OhioKent State University was famous for their yearly Halloween bash.  It was my plan to party all day at school, and head to Kent and party all night.

By this point, even though I was a senior in High School, a good amount of my High School friends didn’t want to be around me any more.  My habits were too severe, and my moods were unpredictable.  I would snap on people in a moment.  I would go from being sentimental to being crazily angry.  My only friends were those who participated in my level of madness.  This led me to hang around with a lot of people in their twenties.  People who were attending college and failing out, drug dealers, and also the legion of young people who consumed what they offered, and funded their designer rave clothes wardrobe.

I dressed up like Magic Alex, from the film “A Clockwork Orange” by Stanley Kubrick for Halloween.  I ate 3 hits of blue LSD gel tabs in the morning and put on my outfit- complete with a walking cane and fake, long eyelashes.  I wanted to imitate the criminal madness of Alex, who fueled himself with drugs throughout the whole movie, and then committed heinous acts of violence and infamy.

There’s something about the world of drugs that makes dark and sinister things interesting.  I had officially gone down a road of embracing darkness.  I would take drugs regularly, hallucinate and see awful things, and accept them as if they were normal.  I realize that God Himself wasn’t going to force me to do otherwise, for that would make Him a “Master of Puppets”, and not a loving God who revealed His beauty, love and forgiveness to me, at a moment of desperation in a bad trip I had the summer before.  I should have known then what I know now, that God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. (Rom. 1:18-20)

God’s most severe judgment is that He lets people experience the sting of their own consequence.  At this point, I knew that everything I was doing was totally awful, but my self-hatred and anger towards the world was thorough enough to plunge me into a downward spiral.

I don’t remember barely anything at all about the Halloween of 1998.  I do once recall looking at myself in a mirror dressed as Magic Alex, and seeing myself turn into many different vicious creatures, because the drug had so thoroughly taken a hold of my brain.  I also remember being in Kent many hours later, walking through the streets dressed as Alex, still tripping and completely drunk.  I don’t think we even made it to the Halloween party in downtown Kent.  We spent all night racking our brains with substances, and then ate at Denny’s restaurant in the middle of the night with a group of inebriated freaks.  I don’t remember who was there.  I don’t remember anything we did.  I only know that I was so out of my mind, anyone who would have encountered me would have thought I belonged in a mental ward.

I do know that we were partying all night at a house that belonged to a friend of ours, Dirk.  He lived at the Eagle’s Point apartments in Kent.  His house was a constant, consistent den of crazy.  Dirk didn’t do drugs like we did, but he was always drunk.  He would get so drunk at his parties that he would dress up in a Viking outfit, complete with a horned helmet, plastic body armor, a plastic ball and chain mace, and Valhalla wrist guards.  There were a few nights that he went into a rage and brought in large objects, and began to demolish his apartment.  I remember one night where he actually smashed his TV with a large log.  We would all sit around him, dumbfounded and laughing, too afraid to stop him, and too wasted to care.

It was at one of these parties where I did a line of cocaine.  It was one of those things that I always told myself, even at the worst moments, that I would never do.  But my friend Kristian assured me that it was not going to kill me, and it would be one of the most potent highs I had ever experienced.  I only remember snorting it, and then being filled with the feeling that I was equal with God.  I believed the serpent, who said that God knew that when I put it up my nose my eyes would be opened, and I would be like God…” (Gen. 3:5)  I remember walking around afterwards, filled with the sensation that I could destroy and overpower anything.

Forty-five minutes later, I was the most depressed that I had ever been.  I smoked a full eighth of an ounce of marijuana, just in an effort to cope with the physical withdrawal.  My friend James was deeply angry at me.  He told me off that day.  It may have been because of him that I didn’t do it again.  The urge was definitely strong, but I can now say that this was the only time that I have ever snorted cocaine.

But my party was not even close to over.  At this point, I was smoking about $70 worth of marijuana a week.  I was taking between 2 and 6 hits of acid a week, which cost between $10 and $30.  I was snorting prescription speed when I could get a hold of it.  I was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, which cost $17.50 a week back then, and I was drinking about two fifteen packs of beer on the weekends, which was $16 a week (we drank really cheap beer).  Over all, I was spending about $123.50 a week on my drug habit.  For a senior in High School with no job, this was a lot of money.

I began to deal pot to support my out of control habits.  Most of the time, I would find naïve, nice kids and rip them off.  I’d ask them for money in advance, buy dope for them, smoke half of it, and tell them I got ripped off and give them half of what they payed for.  I regret to say that during this time, I also turned some kids on to LSD.  One of which dosed himself and had to be put in a mental ward for the night.

The fights I had with my parents were out of control.  I would come home, 2 hours after curfew.  My Mom would confront me, angry at my defiance of their rules.  I would cuss her out.  She would ask me, “Ben, are you high?”  I would bark back at her, “Yeah…  What are you going to do about it?”  At this point I didn’t even bother trying to hide anymore.  I was off my rocker, and I just wanted to live my way.  My Mom actually went into the worst depression she’s ever been in, and had to take Prozac for a short time to alleviate the worry that I would come home in a coffin.

One time, my Dad and I were arguing.  I started physically pushing him until he was up against the wall.  I dared him; “Go ahead Dad.  Hit me!  I know you wanna do it!  C’mon!”  I was fortunate that my Dad controlled himself in that moment.  He never struck me in my life, even in those moments when I would have deserved it.  Not that I believe in them, but I could have used a couple of spankings when I was little…

I was about to go further into psychological drug abuse as the world of the Rave scene lured me in like bait on a fish-hook.  The pumping jungle bass beats, flashing colored lights in the night, the tweakers dancing around like indigo demons, and the mystique of a drug called “Ecstasy” intrigued me.  It wouldn’t be long before my life would become stranger than ever…

Adderall: Prescribed to Kids with ADHD, and Abused by Drug Addicts

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English: Adderall

English: Adderall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My girlfriend left town, enrolled in an all-girl boarding school in the middle of nowhere in central Pennsylvania.  It was safe to say that I wouldn’t be able to keep in regular contact with her throughout the end of winter and spring of 1999 in Hudson, Ohio (in between Akron and Cleveland).  The months leading up to her departure in late February were filled with an over-abundance of drugs.  We had been taking ecstasy every weekend, sneaking out and going to all night rave parties in the city in the middle of the night, smoking dope all day, every day, continuing daily to be fueled by Adderall– prescription speed that Jaime’s parents had prescribed her to for her supposed ADHD.  When they were available, we’d take mushrooms, or do LSD, and we did a fair share of weird designer drugs like Nexus (2CBs- a designer hallucinogen) and Special-K (horse tranquilizer).

God and conscience had been the furthest thing from our minds, as the powerful experience of the drug ecstasy rolled us into an inter-twined love affair of blindly idealistic proportions.  This drug, technically named MDMA, brought one to an emotionally open state of mind, and a willingness to love and share deep emotions.  There was no moral compass to guide this love.  It was a blind love, a feeling, a moment.  It has been said that ecstasy is used in psychotherapy to repair broken marriages.  Any drug that would release all of the serotonin in one’s brain at once could potentially lead an individual to fall in love with a chair or a rainbow.  Jaime and I were certainly good friends and attracted to each other.  Ecstasy made us feel like we were Romeo and Juliet with the whole world crumbling around us.  I would literally sneak out in the middle of the night and come to her house.  She had a balcony at outside of her bedroom at her parents’ beautiful, large home.  She would tie together bed-sheets and throw them out of the balcony.  I would climb up, we would take whatever drugs we had, and the night would go wherever we felt like.  It was an intense physical, emotional, drug-fueled relationship.  She was a sophomore and I was a senior in High School.

Ecstasy had side effects, also.  I would try to sleep after a night of being high on it, and would have nightmares where my teeth would be grinding together, and I would be weeping and witnessing an illusory world of phantoms and angry minions cackling at me.  I would literally feel at times that I was grinding my teeth to the point where there were cracking and breaking in excruciating pain.  It wasn’t until 2 years later that I would read of the end of time and hear that “the Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:41-42)  Much like my many horrific experiences on LSD, continued use of harder drugs plunged me into an experience of hell.  A few times, I woke up in the middle of the night after doing X, and my eyes were open, but I could not move my body.  I would begin to freak out, thinking that I was in a coma and would never awake again.  I would look around at the room and it would be hazy, though behind would lurk dark shadows that formed the faces of demons staring at me.  By some weird force of divinely inspired will, I would shake myself awake, as it would be drenched in sweat and fear.  I remember the sound in my ears resembling the feeling of sand being poured in my brain.  It was what I imagined an aneurism would feel like.  Many people talk of the euphoric and idealistic world that ecstasy creates.  Not many people talk of the after effects of this extreme drug.

Whatever idealism existed was now over for Jaime and I.  She was in Pennsylvania, given a new chance to pull her failing grades up and life together.  I was stuck, strung-out and lovesick, in Hudson, Ohio.  I had one semester of High School left.  I had scored nothing but F’s and one D for the first two quarters of my senior year of High School.  I was in the third quarter, and had nothing but F’s for grades.  In some classes, I had done so little homework and miserably failed so many quizzes and tests, that I had percentages of 20 and 15 and 38.  Mrs. Romito, our Assistant Principal, called me into her office…

“You’re on the ‘hot list’ Ben.”  She said into my beet-red, tired eyes.

“What’s the ‘hot list’?”  I apathetically replied.

“It’s a list with about seven people out of the three-hundred and eighty in the senior class who are in danger of failing twelfth grade.  Ben, if you don’t pull your grades up to at least D’s and C’s, you will not graduate High School this year.  You’ll be held back…”

I sulked in despair and despondency.

“But Ben…”  Mrs. Romito continued.  “I know that you are a bright kid.  Your record shows that you were once even in gifted programs in school.  Now what you’re doing in your personal life is not your business, but I really believe that if you pull it together, you can make it to graduation this year.”

Mrs. Romito offered me what many during this dark period of life would not have offered- hope.  I also remember being at home and talking with my Mom and Dad about this situation.  Obviously, Mrs. Romito contacted them about it.

“Look man.”  My Dad, Gary White, the once hipped-out, tripped-out 70’s musician turned successful businessman said.  “I know that you are so bright and gifted Ben!  I know you have done amazing things before!  I don’t see why you can’t do the impossible now!  Pull your grades up buddy!”

My Mom supported completely this idea.  “Yeah Ben!  I know you can do it!”  She would say.  “You’re such a smart guy!  You don’t want to be left behind and watch all of your classmates graduate without you!”

My parents also believed in me when I felt the least worthy.  So I resolved to do the seemingly impossible, and in 3 months time, I would attempt to pull 15%-40% F’s up to 70%-77% D’s and C’s.

Jaime was gone from my life for the time being.  I was filled with sorrow and withdrawal from our Candy Cane world of ecstasy fueled love the months before.  But without her, there wasn’t any point in continuing the wild party.  We would converse on the phone about our dilemma.

“Jaime, we have to get out of this crap-hole we have created.”  I said

“Yeah Ben, I know.  I’m totally going to get good grades while I’m here.”  She answered back from her rural Pennsylvanian, all-girl dorm.

“I will too Jaime.  We can help each other through this.  We’ve just got to stop getting high.  Will you stop if I stop?”

“Yes Ben.  I love you.”

“I love you too…”

Was it real love that we felt?  No…  It was infatuation that began with a heavy drug experience.  But we were leaning on each other more than ever.  We both had a chance to pull it together.

But I was still a drug addict.  By this point, I was smoking marijuana all day, every day, and doing hard drugs whenever I could.  I decided that I would just change my addiction to drugs that would make me function at a higher rate and not slow my brain down.  I didn’t want to tell Jaime, but I connected with other kids that were prescribed Adderall, a lighter form of meth-amphetamine.  I began to steadily supply myself with Adderall pills.  I resolved to not smoke pot, drink, or take hard drugs like psychedelics or Ecstasy.  I would, however, take stimulants.

This is how a day at school looked for me when this shift in habit began.

6 a.m.- wake up in a groggy haze, have a bowl of cereal or toast and then a cigarette or two.

6:30 a.m.- Brew an entire 12-cup pot of double-strength coffee.  Drink half of it at home- dark and black.

6:45 a.m.- Fill up a 6-cup thermos with the other half of the pot of coffee, say goodbye to parents.  Get in my 1988 Buick LeSabre and head to school.  Down an orange, 20 mg. pill of Adderall with a swig of coffee.  Smoke 3 more cigarettes.

7:00 a.m.- Arrive at school.  Talk to no one.  Study or read for 30 minutes before homeroom.  Let Adderall, nicotine and coffee begin to speed me up into a frenzy.

7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.- Go about my day of school in an over-stimulated, over-talkative fit of madness.  Smoke a cigarette in the bathroom in-between every period.  Participate in class and turn in homework at a more consistent rate than ever.

12:30 p.m.- Skip lunch, snort 20 mg. of a crushed up, orange Adderall pill.  Begin speeding.  Depending on sleep and food intake, potentially begin to hallucinate or get delusional.

1 p.m. to 3 p.m.- Finish day of school, speeding out of my mind and making all sorts of new friends.  Some scared of me, some finding me amusing.

3:30 p.m.- Drive home, finish the last of the pack of cigarettes that I had started that day, and open another.

4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.- Arrive home, Brew more coffee.  Snort or eat 20 more mg. of Adderall.  Smoke more cigarettes.  Begin to do homework.

9:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m.- Snort or eat 20 more mg. of Adderall.  Do more homework, reading and studying.  Talk to Jaime at some point on the phone- telling her that I was staying clean, and hearing the same from her.  Do more homework.  Record music.  Write poetry.  Go outside and smoke.  Play music.  Do homework.  Talk out loud to myself while smoking outside in the dark.  Stare at the carpet on my floor and see demons writhing and gnawing at each other’s flesh.  Try to sleep.  No success.  Force myself to eat a couple of pretzels- they taste dry and disgusting.  Do more homework.  Smoke.  Play music.  Think about Jaime.  Try to sleep.  Cook a can of vegetable soup and force myself to eat it.  Speed wears off.  Crash into a deep oblivion.

6 a.m.- Wake up and do the same thing, with potential variances but consistent stimulant intake, again.

I was drinking 2 pots of coffee, smoking 2 packs of cigarettes, and taking between 60 and 100 milligrams of Adderall a day.  I was a speeding frenzy.  I would barely eat one and a half meals a day.  I was six-feet, zero inches tall, and weighed 160 lbs.  After doing this amount of speed for 3 months, I weighed 133 lbs.  My ribs would show through a t-shirt.  I had long hair pulled behind my ears and deep blue, skeleton-esque circles under my eyes.  Yet through all of this, there would be nights when I would literally do between 3 and 10 days of homework for all 7 of my classes in one night.  I had no study halls in school, because all my periods had to be full for me to even consider passing twelfth grade.  I was running myself ragged and crazy, with speed, caffeine and nicotine fueling me all the way.

During this time, I may have slipped up and smoked weed a couple of times.  I would always tell Jaime when it happened, and she would act disappointed.  I never told her about the speed intake, though.

Granted, Adderall was a legal, prescribed drug given to kids with ADHD.  But this stuff was speed- it had meth-amphetamine as its’ active ingredient!  When taken in higher doses, it kept my brain working functionally.  But there would be times that I was so sleep deprived, that I would begin to dream lucidly while awake.  I would look at the chalkboard in the class I was in and see skeletons made of chalk dust begin to swordfight.  One time I was deeply low on food intake and sleep, and tremendously high on Adderall.  I saw a dark purple figure before my eyes every time that I blinked that looked like a cloaked man.  The ghost of Christmas future.  The grim reaper himself- the bringer of death.  I thought that I was going to die of a heart attack and he was going to take me away.

People saw this drug as a help to society.  Most of the kids prescribed to it abused it as much as me, and were just as delusional and messed-up as I was.  When the drug would take a hold of you, it would give you such intense euphoria that chills would run all throughout your body constantly.

The end of high school neared.  My once failing grades were now all C’s, D’s, and even a B.  I was called in once again to Mrs. Romito’s office.

I scurried in to her room in a frenzied state.  My hair in a pony-tail.  My face all flushed from speed and caffeine.  My pupils dilated and eyes wide open.

“Ben…”  Mrs. Romito said.  “You made it.  You graduated.  I knew you could do it.”

Though I was a crazy, frenzied mess.  I had stayed over-stimulated enough to pull my grades together.  I wouldn’t be held back.  I would graduate High School.  Jaime did well at her school in Pennsylvania.  She got A’s and B’s.  She wanted to transfer back to Hudson High School to be with me and her friends.

But were we strong enough to begin a new chapter?  We were still addicts.  When she first arrived home she saw how skinny and dilapidated I was, and I had to admit to my speed abuse.  I would soon after quit taking speed.  But what was the summer to bring us?  We were to be released into the wild world of graduated freedom, crazy kids, smoke filled air, bright sunshine and ponds where people took drugs, drank beer and had sex.  The dark nights ahead were screaming our name as Jesus lingered, hidden behind the clouds as the prodigal son was knowingly about to squander his property in reckless living. (Luke 15:13)  It seems as if He may have known that one day His arms would be open wide, as the sick child returned in unworthy tears and grief.  Only to embrace and hold close to this tattered mess of a person in reckless, forgiving love.