Chapter 09 – May

In common parlance, addiction is a bad thing. Addicted to cigarettes, to weed, to heroin, to cocaine. I’m addicted to two of the drugs that I’m prescribed and have been addicted to a third before going through terrible withdrawal while going off of that. You mess with enough neurotransmitters and sooner or later a physical dependence (that’s the nice way of putting it) will develop. My antipsychotic is the worst offender that I have ever had the chance to encounter. Klonopin was a bitch to detox from. I went cold turkey because I didn’t want to manage withdrawal for three weeks as the dose was gradually reduced which meant several weeks of abnormally high to paralyzing anxiety without the physical symptoms associated with cold turkey. That was a hellacious five days with two of the days spent lying on the floor feeling like I was electrocuted while trying desperately not to hurl because I vomit through my nose and that gets rotten really fast. Klonopin was manageable. Physical pain and a desperate need to take something to relieve the psychic discomfort is easy in a way that other withdrawals are not. It takes a lot of sheer will power to make it through five days and a lot more cigarettes to tamp down the insane levels of paralyzing anxiety. I put my head down and did it because my memory had become swiss cheese and I couldn’t remember things I had said just a few moments before. Anxiety is manageable. Geodon is not. Not everyone who develops a dependency will go through what I experience, what I hope to never actually experience in its full form when discontinuing because I’m never going off of it for whatever reason, but I go through it in a small way on a forgetful day. I take it in the morning and at night. I never forget to take my morning dose anymore. Geodon is not like klonopin where I know what will bring me relief because of a linear relationship between pill and addiction and I unconsciously long for the pill knowing what promise it holds. Geodon starts off slow and never once does it enter my mind that I missed anything unless I check my pill counter because by the time that I should remember it I’m already too far gone. It starts with feeling off, little things like the world seeming a little too unreal and distant and a cognitive haze settles, then it becomes a mood thing where I go up and then down from hour to hour from overcaffeinated to needing caffeine. Then my brain shuts down. It was an autumn day the last time I missed, warm out. Great day to begin with, then down and fuzzed, and then desperately waiting for the drug to work. I smoked out front patiently waiting for the psychic chasm to heal. A friend sat down next to me and we chatted while my brain was doing flips. In a second I would go from a peaceful drag on my cigarette to the mental split that happens when the conscious mind and the body part ways. It’s a fracturing that is similar to breaking glass without hearing the sound that mentally doesn’t register as actually happening because the act is lacking a necessary component. That’s about as close to understanding it that’s possible without experiencing it. Ultra-manic thoughts would splinter into my mind for several seconds rushing through what can only be counted in the hundreds as though it was like a dream compressing an alternative perverted life into just an hour of REM or a day into a second complete with dream logic that cannot be grasped as soon as the ultra-manic thoughts end and then I’d crash into suicidal thoughts only to snap back into feeling off which is a byproduct of going through these cycles. I would take another drag. The time is inexact since I’ve never been cognizant enough to hold a stop watch and precisely measure, it’s just the time between one anxious drag to the next. Smokers will know what I’m talking about — drags have a natural distance to them and when anxious or pressed they shorten to unreasonably short spans without drags being one right after the other like a chain smoker on his first fix of the day. With Geodon it’s not a fix in that I will feel warm and fuzzy and relaxed, it’s a fix in that I don’t visualize myself flying over a ledge while laughing.

It’s been two years since I missed. I have geodon scattered everywhere so that I never will.


The basement of our house that is home to our washer and dryer is the scariest fucking basement I have ever been in. The ceiling is just a touch too low so anyone who is 5-9 is perpetually hunched over in fear of scraping the top of the basement. I never wanted to look up and see what my hair touched. The landlord kept the carcasses of previous washers and dryers and lawnmowers, both riding and push, piled up in the back that housed untold number of spiders. We never went back there for fear that the heap would collapse one day after we disturbed the precarious mound of metal. I don’t know how they got the riding lawnmower down there.


The end of the month I felt it come. Switches went from off to on and I felt great. Beyond great. It was just the start but I was already sleeping five hours a night. It wouldn’t be bad, not like the past, but it’s a swing like nothing else.

In the same way that depression is not sadness but an absence that causes sadness, mania is not “heightened mood”. It has flights of ideas, I’ve written a terrible book that is scatter shot and was written in a month I had so many ideas. I’ve definitely talked so fast that my mouth couldn’t keep up with the words that I wanted to say or my words came out of my mouth without control over what was happening. I am definitely hyper, to the point where I can’t sit still and crave physical exercise because if I sit still too long it feels as though my muscles will collapse. But this is all the same as taking Prednisone. It is also one of the reasons why I smoke during the summer. It takes the edge off so I can actually function. “Heightened mood” does not do justice to the heights of the mood. It is like cocaine but instead of a dominating hyper activity that scatters, it is a pure, brilliant, effusive, clean energy that swaddles the mind with delirious optimism and courage and willingness to do anything that is sustained over months instead of hours and deluded in ways that are warmer and radically change behavior. Sometimes it goes horribly wrong.

When I’m really manic, to the point of delusion, I believe nothing can stop me and I fear nothing.

I test those limits too.

I’ve stolen close to $10,000 in clothing, in books, in electronics. I plead the fifth in case this book ever makes it to a prosecutor. I didn’t do it because I wanted the items, or needed the items, it was the thrill. It was the thrill of outsmarting security systems, of the rush of adrenaline that can only come from walking through the pressure test of the doors. Mania loves these thrills. It pushes it higher and higher as success piles on success. The rush of running away when the alarm goes off is the best. I still feel the rush when I pass through the RFID field. It makes me smile.

It seeks company as well. It wants to be surrounded by as many people to showcase talents and optimism and drive and to be congratulated and applauded. It loves company. It loves sex. Sex when really manic is not like anything else. It lasts longer, it feels better, it is a drug to be sought. And it loves to drink. I’ve never really blacked out or thrown up, my mania tends to stop these things. Instead it parties, it finds people and challenges them to drinking contests and wins and feeds off of the warm comfort of alcohol and can stay up all night pushing others to continue with it.

It has a level of energy that cannot be matched. It can go days without sleep and never feel tired despite the worsening cognitive abilities. It can run further, it can party harder, it can focus on a single thing for days and pound out 40,000 words of garbage while thinking that it is the second coming of Jesus incarnate worthy of a Pulitzer. It is, unstoppable. Grace doesn’t try to stop it now. She lets me burn myself out. She rolls with the punches and ignores, or tries to, my incessant jabberings. It’s a long four months for her. She likes me better depressed.

Mania can be deadly too. It doesn’t think about consequences. It just does things. It has no fear. So it makes mistakes.

It is depersonalizing. Depression is personal, it tugs at the depth of experience. It’s even been shown to make people more realistic. Mania is another person. It is a person that lies, steals, does indescribable things that I want to forget as soon as I come down into reality in the fall. It is not me. I love it. But it is not me. I do most of my work and most of what makes me me comes from manias. But I do not see myself in it. I love it to death and welcome it. Because it is an escape. It is a vacation from reality.

I don’t do those things now. I really don’t. But I still get to have a piece of it and that piece is still destructive and deadly. My mania is too strong for my meds. Now I get the clean mania of energy and activity without spiraling into delusion. I fantasize constantly about being better than I am, but I know they are fantasies. My thinking goes from liquid and long and detailed into short, chopped, ideas. I think too quickly to get into detail.

In the end, I still get my vacation. Summer is wonderful. But one of these days my luck will run out there as well.


After the exchange of  “I love you”s we decided to start actually dating. The night after we said it with both realized that we meant something different than what most people mean when they say it for the first time two to three months into dating one another. I had never said it to anyone but Grace, and that was nonsexual, and Rachel had said it to a boyfriend before but never imagined it holding her to him as it did to me. She had meant it out of hormones and togetherness that can spring up multiple times in life and though it hurts and drives and is often lost, it doesn’t carry the marriage like proposal at Forequarter. We wanted some of that in our life. We wanted to be a normal couple with something other than the thrill of impending death.

So we dated.

It was weird, at least at first.

Restarting our first date we decided on the movies. I ironed my shirt and wore a belt and even tucked in my shirt while she put on makeup and a dress and thankfully Sundance Theaters is a classy enough joint that us dressing up didn’t stand out. I talked with Grace while Rachel prettied herself and I would pretend to go down and knock on the door as though I was picking her up and then off we would go to the movies. It was my idea to revert to being teenagers, but she went along with it. There was the same nervous tension when I knocked and saw her dressed up. The same fumbling for words, the same awkward tension the same utmost desire to see the other naked. It was the same as if we hadn’t gone on a date before, like Forequarter erased part of our past. It was weird because it shouldn’t have been the same, but it was. And any falseness went away when she opened the door. At Sundance I bought popcorn and she didn’t want butter, though she knew I did, but I gave in, and we got there early so we sat in the middle of the row for the best seats and fumbled for conversation but eventually laughed at ourselves. The illusion wasn’t completely complete, but it was good enough. We finished the movie, both bitched about it, then at home I opened the door for her and she led me to the bedroom.

It became our thing to do this every Friday night.

I never stopped being nervous though, she didn’t either.

It was better that way.

We could build on awkward dates from our codependent lives.

And we did, though it took some time.

Cliff for once was down on the couch reading. Unicorn Girl like Crying of Lot 49 as well. She had never read Gravity’s Rainbow and they chose to spend their summer reading it. He was ecstatic (they were in for a surprise once they got to the pedophilia and the realization that almost everything in the book is a penis). They still did things on the weekend that he couldn’t believe he was doing, like purposefully getting lost in a forest and finding their way back to civilization without the use of GPS, but this made sense to him. The book made sense to him. He couldn’t believe how much time he had wasted on video games.

Harold and I fell into a rhythm of biking every other day, part of that was my desire to lose weight. Every other day were would don our specialized spandex complete with intricately made wicking fibers that mimic the properties of wool, the original biking garb, but without the insane level of insulation that comes from the natural fiber. We looked like idiots with our special shorts with what looks like diapers sown into them which were actually pads made to wick moisture away from our ass and pad our taints so that we didn’t form blisters and rashes between our legs. Our crotches still hurt like hell after fifty miles. I’m surprised that bikers in the Tour are able to walk after their rides. They must have callouses down there. The thought still makes me shudder. We also had our Camelbacks so we didn’t have to reach down and drink one handed from a water bottle that always proved to be difficult when going fast or facing a curve in the path that we were now religiously devoted to and passed in a blur. And it seemed like every week we would find new gear to purchase and try out.

The rigors of biking worked their magic. Harold had lost the remaining fat around his muscles and was now taut. I was just skinny and my clothes hanged from me as I lost the last amount of fat that I had gained from Zyprexa. It shouldn’t matter, and no matter how much we say it doesn’t matter, losing weight feels amazing. We grew close in our conversations mid-trip that were punctuated by us heaving for air. Some how, having been with the same girl, we had a bond that was at once stranger and also closer than other relationships. I complained sometimes about living with Rachel and her persistent messiness and habit of leaving books in bed so that when we finally went to sleep I would find a library under the sheets and he would nod and laugh and agree. After beginning to date her, I also found the need to vent about her peculiarities. And it was in May that he asked about how Rachel and I got together.

We were taking a break on a hundred mile tour that meant going around the Capital City Trail three times and then around Monona once. It was out in Olin Park on our trip through Monona that we took a break to refill our Camelbacks and sit and rest for the last ten mile loop that he broached the subject. He wasn’t sad about losing her then, he wasn’t anything but curious and interested in why he failed. The loss of her and failure in class had brought him to a new place, one where he could learn and try again. He had grown, he had dimensions, he tried to improve. So I told him. I told him about her depression, I told him how I took her to the psychiatrist and how she didn’t want to include him because she was afraid of hurting him or driving him nuts. He agreed that it would have torn him away. That he hovered, that he pestered her, how he didn’t provide company, how he forgot her. He nodded slowly not fully wanting to accept what I was saying. How I helped her get better and that we both had a bond through depression that he didn’t, that Chicago lifted her out of it temporarily. How I was the one holding her together while he was off skiing and going to class.

Harold went from sitting to laying on his back with a tremendous sigh as he learned the details of how I stole his girlfriend. Then he sat back up and said that he figured as much and repeated the words several times to reassure himself that he had finally accepted what had happened. He had seen all the signs and missed them, about our relationship and her decline. I didn’t tell him how she asked him out though, how she never intended to be with him in any capacity other than as a friend or that her moving in with him was desperation rather than love and that she never did love him. That would be cruel. Then he said that he was happy for her, and for me, that she was happier with me than with him. It didn’t come out begrudgingly, or accepting, just a matter of fact that he came to see. Rachel and me being together was just there for him to see, a failure on his part, and he grew to let it be. I liked the new Harold.

We continued our trek and our muscles were sore and fatigued by sitting for too long. But it felt good none the less.

The hundred miles felt short in the end. We were both sore but we could keep going on our forth wind. I had my two bikes that I fixed up but were heavy as hell and he had his Peugeot that was working better than ever. But we wanted speed. We wanted to break our old times. We shared in our need to measure, calculate, and improve in a religious fashion that to some would suck the fun out of riding but to us it enhanced it as we pushed harder to beat ourselves and each other. We went to Yellow Jersey the day after and bought two disturbingly beautiful Bianchis. It was almost a crime to ride them but it would be a crime not to. We spent hours in the basement making small adjustments to the handle bars and the seat so that we would have proper position where our backs would lie at just the right angle and our feet would strike almost flat at the bottom of the stroke and this is only really possible if you have someone else observing the posture. We were fitted. Harold was exhausted from the day before but I wanted to ride. I needed to ride in an existential sense and a physical sense. With a hundred miles under my belt it only pushed me to go two hundred and further while my muscles ached in a way that physical stress never approximates.

I slipped on my shoes and with the metal clips clicking against the concrete stairs while I duck walked down them and I slid my feet in the clips with that loving snap of metal locking against metal and went off. I found myself in Milwaukee without water and without food and without money. I felt great. I biked around the city still feeling strong and went past the Museum of Modern Art that looks like a boat. I wanted to go in but saved it for Rachel. We would discover it together. I tore my way through the city dodging in and out of lanes to avoid cars while constantly checking the speedometer to see if I was still maintaining speed. I was. It took an hour to find my way back to the path to Madison and biked my way home. I was sweaty. My body hurt. The seat wore into my pants and discolored them. I had barely enough strength to make it up the stairs as my legs wobbled with fatigue.

Rachel was wondering where I was.

Not in the relationshipy “where were you honey?”, but the latent fear that I killed myself.

I hadn’t, but that thought would always go through both our heads whenever the other disappeared. It never goes away, that latent fear.

I took a shower and she joined me. I told her where I was and what I did. She was shocked. Not by my mood but by the accomplishment. She’s never seen me up. The things I do. I sometimes disappear when manic. I’ve found myself parked at Devil’s Lake sunning myself only to snap back into reality wondering how the hell I got there. I still stayed there and sunned myself. It was a nice day to escape. I never get into trouble, I just wind up somewhere new.

Grace knows this side of me. I was pretty up when I met her and rather charming too. She’s seen it every year and for a while looked forward to it since I wanted to do everything and anything and didn’t need to be persuaded to try something new. I just did it. People who just do things without thinking or care are fun. I was fun. And I didn’t stop to sleep or need to eat or tend to myself in any physical way besides pushing it and pushing everyone around me. Then she found my manias less fun when she got older and I tamed them, but that’s better for the both of us. Also, she knows that I’ve never hurt myself when manic and now that they’re restrained I don’t do that much stupid shit other than biking to Milwaukee without hesitation. I don’t steal, I don’t drink, I’m just energetic. I’m mostly worry free during the summer. She told this to Rachel at the beginning of summer mania season. So Rachel doesn’t worry either. And manias cut with meds are much more enjoyable in a productive sense than the raw drug, though they don’t feel as good.

Rachel stepped into the shower with me. I was still high on endorphins and mania and the sight of a naked woman whom I loved standing in front of me touching me, and I a little horny, was too much for my brain to resist. The touch of water running over my hand as I brought her closer to me and my heart pounding and the release of adrenaline that made my head spin forced her against the wall as she squeaked happily at the new found vigor. The whole house knew what happened next and Grace was annoyed that we used all the hot water. For a while afterwards, Grace used the downstairs bathroom to avoid the thought of what Rachel and I did upstairs.

After the ride I was up for days. My brain felt electric and energetic and creative and I sought some sort of release. Exercise was not enough, though physical enough to keep me from pacing or squirming on the couch while attempting to focus on a book but really thinking about the rush of flying down hills and pushing through suburbs on flats that seemed endless. Sex with Rachel only led to more sex and we spent a day in our room as sex filled my every thought and pulled her back away from the door each time she would flee but give up without much of a fight. There was never enough. The craving for more ate away at me and I couldn’t sit still for longer than ten minutes. Watching TV with Grace led to me pacing through the commercial breaks. She was used to this. And I came down from the initial high.

I settled into just being up.

Not up like cocaine, a little more restrained than that.

This meant that I was active in an overactive but not annoying way.

Rachel and I were having coffee and I was chattering on while she absorbed the hilarious chaos that separated mania from mixed states. Grace plopped down with a heaving sigh that demanded all attention and I shut the hell up because I knew she would have no tolerance for me to say anything or do anything other than to ask her why the long sigh. I asked, and Grace broke the news. She hadn’t found anyone through internet dating. Big surprise. She had given up about two weeks before. No surprise.

She fucked Harold.

That was news.

She didn’t seem particularly thrilled either. But not disappointed.

But he wasn’t up here cuddling her in a post coital sort of way that usually indicated a relationship where he would fetch her coffee and describe the various roasts to her in an attempt to make sure that his new found love had exactly what she needed which is not anything that Grace actually wanted. She hated lovey dovey stuff. So where was he? That was my first question. Then the actual question came up. What the hell was she doing?

They were just fucking.

That was her way of putting it.

Rachel did the prying.

Grace was frustrated and horny. No surprise. She wasn’t lonely though, she once was but got used to being alone saying it made her more productive. Grace has said that to me before, that she was more productive. I’ve discovered that it’s actually code for her channeling her need for sex into an outlet though she would vastly prefer sex at any moment. Then Harold came back from a bike ride and was sweaty wearing tight clothing and she could see his muscles and the ‘productivity’ gave way to baser instincts. I rolled my eyes. Harold’s staggered thumps from climbing up the stairs quickly shut us the hell up for fear of disturbing some new equilibrium. Rachel resumed like a little sister without thinking twice about it. Apparently (and this is Grace talking so it’s definitely skewed toward her justifying the fact that she had casual sex with someone after giving up sex altogether) she and Harold talked to no end about my relationship with Rachel and how strange it was and how fucked up it began and how it seemed inevitable given the circumstances and how both of them were slightly jealous and alone and horny and not really interested in anything but sex.

So they fucked.

Her words.

Harold grabbed himself a cup of coffee while we were all silent to his moving around. He stared at us and grasped what was going on and went downstairs to drink. This was Grace time. Time for me and Rachel to pry out what we could from her only for me to do so to him during a break on a bike ride.

I didn’t buy the full story, but whatever. Grace is always happier when well sexed. Though, she stayed away from even using the word sex. It was just fucking. Just Fucking. She reiterated with more emphasis over and over again as though it would make it seem more reasonable. She hadn’t had a relationship like that, she didn’t use the word relationship, and she hadn’t had sex in a while. It made sense in a twisted way considering that she thought Harold was nice but kinda boring. It was definitely not going anywhere, apparently Harold made that part clear. I could tell that Grace felt a little more rejected on that point. Maybe that was why it was just fucking. And for the record it never did grow beyond them sleeping together. Sometimes Grace would stay in his room and other times she would skip naked back to hers so she could lie spread eagle stomach down on her bed which is her fashion of sleeping. It was good for the both of them.

Harold still wasn’t that good but Grace was teaching him.

Rachel and I congratulated, maybe not that whole heartedly, her on finally getting laid and finally looking less stressed out. It was true, her matted hair suited her as well as a goofy grin when describing the previous night. We didn’t really even need to pry, she offered up the details of the night with pride once Rachel got her started. And I learned more about both my friends than I actually wanted to know, Rachel was also disturbed at thinking of Grace in a sexual sort of way after getting the details. Moms was a freak and Rachel never wanted to find that out. I knew that from long ago but I didn’t want to be reminded. We both tried to take it all back when Grace was telling us about her collection that she nakedly snuck into Harold’s room to use. She also snuck into my bedroom at about 4am to steal a condom for a third session. Despite her stupid grin, Grace still seemed like she needed a boyfriend but sex never really hurts to have.

Harold arrived looking well spent from the ride. We looked at him while examining his hair and could smell Grace and condom on him mixed with crotch sweat as he passed and he knew Grace spilled the beans. He drank from the drip taking the last cup — leaving the eternal half cup still remaining that always seemed to be there no matter how scrupulously the grounds and water were measured, it was perplexing to say the least — it was something he never did willingly when not stressed. He sat down. The four of us stared at each other wondering how we got here. None of us wanted to speak because in a strange way this was better than it had been before, much better. Harold and Grace both wanted a relationship but also a break from relationships. They were good for each other. I just didn’t want Grace going on a ride with me and Harold. That was all I asked for. That was Harold time for me.

Rachel was the first to speak.

She pried details from Harold.

He went into positional detail as well.

Rachel regretted it. She was following her sisterly instincts that she had with Grace but the awkward tension from Grace is familial, Harold was not family. She was over him, but he did things with Grace he didn’t do with her. That always hurts. She wanted to compare notes in a vain attempt to feel better about what she left and was left feeling emptier and rejected in a passive way. There was no more conversation to be had. I distracted myself by drawing a node diagram in my head in as many different ways as possible but each way of mapping our relationships the end conclusion was that we had all slept with one another through someone else and that meant that I had slept with Grace along the way. I was not as disturbed as I though I would be. We all knew how the others were in the bedroom. It hung over us as we sipped at our coffee hoping it would disappear but it didn’t because we couldn’t bring ourselves to drink anything quickly. Cliff was standing in the doorway having overheard the bulk of the conversation between us and Harold and pieced the scenario in his head and was finally the adult of the situation and asked what the big deal everyone was making about it and why we were all acting like children. We shrugged. He was right. That’s why we have Cliff.

And then I saw his toenails. They were painted pink.

I asked about Unicorn Girl as an attempt to exact humiliating revenge.

If he knew our details I was going to find his.

They had been dating forever by this point and he was spending most of his time chasing after her in an attempt to keep up with her life. He rarely played video games now and spent most of his free time with her doing things he never knew he wanted to do. He could barely keep up with her. She kept taking him on day trips to hiking locations to get him into the outdoors to the point that his calves ached and walking to class was painful but he kept going with her each weekend to new locations. The exercise made homework seem less important but easier to do after a relaxing Saturday away from the grind hiking and making out in the woods (and several times having sex in the forest he mentioned with a one-up move to our conversation). We always thought that Cliff was adventurous despite his addiction to games, but she pushed his limits physically and a little bit emotionally, he hadn’t really had a fun girlfriend who wasn’t interested in video games or Game of Thrones.

In the past he would find himself skydiving for fun when he had the time and had the group to do it with and in an attempt to introduce something to her life that she hadn’t done he brought her along. He finally one upped her. She was terrified and held his hand the way down to earth until he separated from her by diving down and giving her clearance to pull the rip cord. Cliff once held a summer job training people how to skydive. He has a squirrel suit to prove his devotion. She said it was the best date she had ever been on. He agreed.

Ever since then things had calmed down and they went on practical dates, like food and movies and music. Sometimes the mall where she bought him clothes so that he wasn’t perpetually in jeans and a t-shirt. It was that stage of a relationship, the mall and clothes shopping. Cliff was in deep and he didn’t mind.

We begged him to bring this mysterious girl around who had visibly improved his attire now that we thought about it — and painted his toenails. He wasn’t ashamed either to be sporting pink. When I pointed it out he blushed and said ‘yeah’ in an affectionate tone while wiggling his toes. He was absurdly into her and we fished out some more details, but none about what she looked like. We would meet her some day, and she suited him well as she led him around but not in a oppressive way, but it was only once and I can’t remember what she looked like.

Silence again. It was woefully uncomfortable. So I started talking about Slate and the day returned to normal. David Frum had an interesting opinion piece.

Once Harold and Cliff left, Rachel and I had Grace to ourselves. We thought of fixing her up for some time but now that didn’t seem necessary. She still had a grin on her face having had sex while not having it since October and that was a hell that she did not want to repeat. And we both sensed that she was still lonely. So Rachel invited her to a new Saturday night date where we would all dress up and I could walk around with two beautiful women in restaurants and theaters and venues and our conversational loads would be cut by roughly a third. Fridays for two, Saturdays for three. It was a good formula and Grace would still check out guys to prey on if she wanted but really her heart wasn’t in it, not because of Harold, but just the perpetual failure with men. Then, when Saturday came, there was only one thing that Grace and Rachel wanted to do and bringing a guy along is always a good idea. I was a beard.

We went to Plan B that night and had a couple of overpriced drinks and danced. Sober, Grace dances like Elaine from Seinfeld. Tipsy or drunk, she finds the beat and has some moves. Going to Plan B alone is a bad idea if you’re a woman. The problem being that the previously gay club turned into a gay club plus single women which devolved into single women and lecherous guys looking for single women with the occasional gay thrown into the mix. Going alone into the club means going into the fray of sketchy horny men who will grind against you without asking and surround you if you’re dancing in any way slightly slutty and alone. Grace refused to go back there after a guy she was dancing with came up from behind, wrapping his arms around her to feel her up and grinding an erect penis against her ass. Now I go with her. And Rachel too. That removes the dancing alone part which is good because Grace can snipe men and if she doesn’t like them after a while she can return to us and have a good time. And if guys start to get too clingy, I’m a male bouncer. It’s always good to have a male friend at Plan B to pretend is your boyfriend. Buy him drinks though, that’s only fair. And the fact that I’m already dancing with a woman doesn’t mean anything there — it’s that kind of place.

We danced ridiculously. Grace is the best of the group but I finally revealed to Rachel how bad a dancer I am. I spasm more than dance with a twitch thrown in there as well. At least I can find a beat sober. And despite being as close as we were, having Rachel see me dance was more embarrassing than one would think because dancing is a very public display of ineptitude. She laughed her ass off at me and actually teared up. She’s just as bad though. Rachel and I tried our damnedest to be sexy too. It was a miserable failure as I danced to the downbeat and her to the upbeat. Our bodies were never in sync and the results were us bumping against each other rather than becoming one or some such nonsense. Dancing is really not my thing though I constantly tried to do it when first hanging out with Grace. Grace sniped some men, then came back, then sniped a couple more and found no one that interesting. What conversation can be held over the subwoofers was stale as she only found MBAs and horny business consultants that were desperate for women and thought drunk girls were the way to go when meeting someone. She still had fun. She was clawing her way back to her old self, teasing men and then letting them off the hook only to snag another. After a summer of it she might have rebounded back to her former man-stomping glory.

We walked back home to burn off the remaining alcohol that dancing didn’t consume and Grace laughed about all the men she danced with. She was too good for them and she felt like it again. Grace had given up not being drunk once I started drinking again. She was beyond tipsy and laughing the way back. Rachel was pretty far gone as well as she downed over priced drinks one after another even though Plan B makes the weakest drinks in Madison by far. We laughed and stumbled, our dysfunctional family, and I thought of Carl and April and were glad to not be a part of their lives. Grace collapsed on the couch when we got home and Rachel dragged me to the bedroom.


But not from me.

Then I heard Grace. Rachel and I were cuddling and falling asleep when we heard a bed shifting away from the wall only to fall back against it repeatedly. It would become a thing, first us then them. Looking back it was a disturbing rhythm to have but it happened that way. There is no way we could all go at the same time, the morning after that happened we mutually agreed that it was too close to being an orgy.

Grace of course was goofy in the morning and Harold was with her that time. They slowly grew closer, as sex does to people, but not ever a relationship. Just teasing and nauseating early relationship stuff. I never saw Grace like that again. She would be happier, but never like that. Never cutesy and bubbly which she hated to be like and never wanted to have but part of her enjoyed the ride. I don’t know how to feel about that other than that she’s happier now and it was good for her to have that once in her life. It became a thing after that day too. They would go up together and sit and tease and play footsy and carry on while Rachel and I looked like boring adults twenty years into our relationship drinking coffee and discussing the news. So we tried to one up them. We tried our own nauseating baby talk impression of them but it never really worked or came together. It was too forced and led to bizarre stares from Grace and Harold who were not exactly nauseated from another couple behaving so but from how we went about it having no clue what to do to mimic them. We never tried it again. At least when Harold was done nibbling on Grace, Grace would continue talking about her classes. Order was restored.

I was staying up later, up till two, then naturally waking at seven. I should have been getting work done but I spent most of my time downloading music. I brought out my equipment and installed it in the living room so that my D/A and amp would find a permanent outside home for anyone to use but mainly for me to use with my AKG K702 reference phones. I love those headphones. Velvety midranges that are prominent but not harsh or overbearing with a warm bass and surprisingly good sub-bass response due to its large diaphragms and powerful amp behind it (plus a solid D/A). They leave music feeling light and airy with a strong enough body behind it so that the high end doesn’t float away leaving nothing behind. I look like a dork wearing them since the headphones are slightly larger than three inches in diameter and cover a third of my head. It’s worth it. People melt when they listen to music as it should be listened to. It only cost me $1500, mania is to blame for that aquisition. That’s also a Benchmark DAC1 that I have behind it by the way, it’s so sexy. After Rachel fell asleep while holding her I would sneak off to listen to music till I felt tired from my meds exerting a their full force after four hours. Rachel didn’t know or find out. She just knew that I had a lot more music.

It was wonderful to be the only person in the house still awake. The only sound being my music and the only activity being me. It was comforting. When up I love being alone at night as I do being with people. It takes the unconscious pressure of being the center of attention off of my brain even though I don’t have the be the center of things, but I feel that I should. Night relieves me of this. It’s a breath of cold night air and silence and calm. I would sneak back down the squeaky steps and crawl in with Rachel finally able to sleep.

I settled into the routine of biking, dancing, drinking, and forgot about doing work or finding a job. May just felt too good to spend inside. I began writing again as a creative outlet only to hit roadblocks and start over or drop the short story half way through to pursue another one and then back to an idea that I’ve had since I was twenty but never got around to really writing it and then backstory and then afterwards and so I had about a dozen projects that demanded a good portion of my time when not out on a bike or drinking with Grace and Rachel at Plan B because that’s the only decent place to dance and I was getting better now that I was practicing and Rachel loved to dance with me even though we could never find a rhythm it still felt good to be together and out on the town and Grace never felt like she was intruding nor did we think she was intruding because she was a sister to the both of us and we were glad to see her finally happy now because before she seemed distant and a little morose and a little under the weather and not quite there from the stress of school and lack of a relationships outside of our heavy disfunctional selves that had to drag her into the past when she was helping me but she was better and we were better and summer was coming and we would be together probably with Harold thrown in now that he was talking to all of us and sure enough he would find himself with us and Grace no longer went off to snipe other men but found a better man to dance with when Harold was able to come with the rest of us.

I had to breathe at nights.

This was normal.

Grace saw it.

It’s normal.

Rachel saw it.

It’s normal.

Harold saw it.

He didn’t know what he was seeing.

It’s normal.

The pull of mania has proven to be too powerful for Zyprexa, the god of obliteration. It is a state to be tempered, controlled, outlasted, and rolled with. None of it was new to me or Grace and Rachel accepted it as the norm. I go up, and down, now that only happens sometimes. So now I only go up. It’s like a free fall on a roller coaster where you scream the whole way down knowing you’re not going to die but still enjoy the thrill of encountering death in a proximal way and the encounter is strangely pleasurable. I scream the whole way down through summer enjoying a brush with my past.


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