Salvodor Dali knows what I'm talking about.

    I wake up feeling more or less like I was run over by a bus, but sleep is impossible, so I make myself go to a 7am AA meeting. Which is just as well, because that meeting is supposed to be required reading here at the Notdisneyworld Sober Ranch, although in my current condition, I could get a special dispensation if I wanted it. But it really wouldn’t do me any good to toss and turn in bed for another hour, so I go.

    We get back around 8:15. Our nurse arrives promptly at 9:00am to dispense medication, including my paltry little 3mg (!) of Suboxone. The worst I feel all day is in the morning between 8am and when the nurse shows up. It goes without saying that that time…passes…very…slowly. Our nurse gets a chuckle now when she shows up at 9 to find me in the group room lying in some state of repose, with the best hang-dog expression I can muster, so as to say: “before you do anything else, please tend to me.”

     Being a first-born (the world revolves around me; never forget this) and somewhat of a drama queen, I have perfected the hang-dog expression to something of an art-form.  Our nurse is the one person in the whole facility who does not have some kind of personal experience with addiction. We call them normies. I have to think that she occasionally (I went to school for like 100 years and I never spell “occasionally” right the first time) gets a kick out of  the theater of the whole thing. But if she does, she never shows it.

    She’s as patient as you would expect a matronly woman in her choice of profession would be. Reading between the lines, you should take my sentiment towards her to mean that she does in fact tend to me before anything else. The real trick is to evoke that kind of sympathy without it appearing intentional. Like I said, it’s art. I have 35 years of experience at this (and I have had a few good teachers along the way), so all you aspiring drama queens, take heart: you too can master the art of evoking pity. You don’t want to overdo it, but it’s not such a bad skill to have when the occasion (really?! two “c”s, one “s”, how hard is that to remember?!) calls for it. Keep reading, and you’re bound to continue getting these invaluable life lessons.


I will kill you. /shoots lasers from eyes

    Remind me not to get addicted to opiates again. I’m currently taking 4mg of Suboxone a day. If you remember, I started at 24mg only 20 short days ago. Ouch. I’d put myself at about a 6 on the misery index, with 10 being full-blown withdrawal. That’s what Suboxone does for you: allows you to trade a 10 for a 6.

    And just for good measure, yesterday the universe dealt me a healthy dose of irony (I’ll get to that in a minute). First, you need to review the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. I’ll wait.  First of all, let me point out that looking at the symptoms of withdrawal written in cold black and white gives you about as much of a sense of the real thing as reading the Cliff’s Notes of Dante’s Inferno.

Dysphoria. Not a real country.

    Take “dysphoria,” for example. Dysphoria sounds like it might not be too good, but then again not so bad, either. It sounds like a country in the former Soviet Bloc. Maybe the government’s corrupt, but there are economic opportunities everywhere. A loaf of bread no longer costs a week’s pay. Sure the Russian mob controls all the entertainment rackets, but at least there is entertainment. Which is better than your options in the before times, limited to mainly kick-the-land mine or…well, not much else.

    But that’s not dysphoria at all. Dysphoria, at least as it’s experienced in withdrawal, is a feeling like – not only am I not happy now – but I’m not ever going to be happy again. Ever. And Santa died. In bed with someone not Mrs. Claus. In fact, it was  Mrs. Bunny. Husband named Easter. And the Fourth of July was cancelled, along with New Years. Now I think the picture is clear.

    So with that backdrop, I’ll note certain other symptoms of withdrawal. The ones involving the gastrointestinal tract. Given my description of dysphoria, let me assure you that every other symptom on that list is equally magnified. So you can understand my consternation when I went to Public (that’s the singular) yesterday and found out that Imodium had been voluntarily recalled. All of it. There was nothing left on the shelf. No store brand. Nothing.

    There is cosmic irony in this scenario. I get that. It’s probably hilarious. I would appreciate it even more, were it not for the fact that laughing riotously is NOT A VERY GOOD IDEA WHEN YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS YOU WOULD OTHERWISE TREAT WITH IMODIUM OH THE HUMANITY.

If you look close, you can see God laughing.

    I know, I know, I doubt God was behind the imodium recall. But you can’t rule it out entirely. So I will soldier on today in my quest to defeat addiction (subdue might be a better word).  But for the next few days, the battlefield will never be too far from a bathroom.

One thing there's never a shortage of on the internet - other than depravity - is cats.

A Good Meeting.

April 28, 2011

I was told there was going to be a camp-fire, hand- holding and Kumbaya, and I'm not leaving till I get it.

    Group meetings are a part of treatment, everyone knows that. The group therapy concept is fodder for mockery in an uninitiated popular culture. And I get that, the concept is a little hokey. But it absolutely works. I had a fantastic meeting yesterday, and I want to give you, my readers, a little glimpse into the inner sanctum of the Notdisneyworld Sober Ranch.

    Today, we heard from one of our own, a guy we’ll call J, who gave his “life-line,” which is a talk that everyone in treatment must eventually give to his brothers and sisters in recovery. The life-line is basically the Reader’s Digest version of our autobiography. It takes a lot of guts to give this talk. And the staff usually gives people about three or four weeks – at least – before they are asked to give their life-line.

   I asked for, and J gave, his permission to share this story. J is an affable, good-looking fellow just this side of thirty. Treatment has done him good: he is articulate, intelligent, tan, and has an extremely positive outlook on life. He looks ready to go home and set the world on fire with his talent and positive energy. So it was surprising to hear how the events that lead him to treatment unfolded.

   One of the natural things we do as human beings is size-up other human beings and compare them to us. That is doubly true in treatment; how do these people and their problems stack up to my own? Natural as it is that we do this, we’re not necessarily any good at it. I had J all wrong. Which goes to show that judgmental-ism is more art than science. And it’s a dark art.

   It is a credit to the work that he has done here that when I arrived, I assumed that J probably didn’t have a problem on the level I did (he was about 70 days in when I got here). After all, people arrive here in all different phases on the hot-mess scale: not all drug problems are created alike, or so my thinking goes. That thinking is flawed, evidenced by the fact that it only ever seems to surface in concert with two negative emotions: shame (e.g., “I don’t deserve forgiveness; what I did was too bad.”) and vanity (e.g., “Ha, my problem was way worse than your problem.”). I had sized J up along the lines of the latter: I thought there was no way he could relate to my problems. Until, that is, he started to tell his story.

    J talked for almost a full hour about his history with drug abuse, and we are substance-abuse soul mates. He was unflinching in his honesty. He wasn’t afraid to let us see his emotions. He cried early and often, particularly when he discussed his family, for whom he obviously has great affection. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house; I was overcome myself, several times during his talk.

    I connected with J’s story in a very powerful way, because his story is my story. So many features do we share: same substances, same crazy drug-addled psychosis, same feelings of guilt for letting our families down. J spoke at length about how hard it is for him to forgive himself for putting his family through such a long ordeal.

     The cycle of active use-getting clean-relapse, along with all the lies that we tell our family in the process, is devastating for our loved ones. And right now, we have nothing but time, and none of the crutches or coping mechanisms that we had before, so that guilt and shame is REALLY raw. As I have indicated before, I have been working on my problem for the better part of 15 years. I can’t tell you how many come-to-Jesus conversations I’ve had with my parents, my brother, my friends over the years. It’s enough to just about kill a parent. Or a sibling. Or a spouse.

    More times than I can count, my inner circle has had to stop what they were doing to try to put Humpty Dumpty back to together again. J’s story is almost identical along these lines. The pain I saw in his face when he discussed what he has put his family through over the years – particularly his mother – was like an arrow through my heart.

    I hurt for J, because I can relate to so much to his story. After he finished his life-line, we had an opportunity to give feedback. When it was my turn, I tried to tell him how much I could understood because of what I had put my family through, and I fell apart. And J fell apart again. Two tough-guys in a room full of people crying like babies, and no one was laughing at us or judging. Just total and complete silence and respect for two people that were working through some really heavy shit. This is why group therapy works.

    The most poignant part of J’s life-line was when he discussed his little girl. Almost the same age as my little girl. For a good portion of the time that he tried to talk about his little girl, J just sat with his face in his hands and sobbed. If we could have, every person in that room would have walked up to him and put our arms around him, and told him, “Dude, it’s okay; you don’t have to do this now.” But he did have to do this. He needed it, and so did we. It’s part of the process.

    So this grown man, with all the talent in the world and his whole life ahead of him, is sitting in front of us, completely unable to speak, unable to face us, unable to read his notes, unable to do anything but hold his face in his hands. So we just sat there for a few minutes, all of us in complete silence, until he was able to continue, which he did. This is a man who has been the most popular person in the room everywhere he has ever been. He is proud, intelligent and accomplished. He knows the joy of victory and the agony of defeat, in all phases of life. And because of his honesty, because of his raw display of emotion, because of his humility and his because of his willingness to share it with us, everyone in that room did some healing. And when the time comes, everyone in that room will be able to give their life-line. J set the example. It was one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen another man do.

   I’ve known this man for 5 days, and he’s done more good for me in five days than my drinking buddies have in years spent together, getting to the bottom of a thousand bottles. J, your daughter is getting back her Daddy, your family is getting back a Man, and I have gained a Friend.

    Real men do cry, in spite of what you’ve heard.

J is on the left. The guy in disguise on the right is your humble author.

Day 8. I think.

April 21, 2011

I’ll be in Florida, will this be a sunset or a sunrise? Inquiring minds…

I didn’t do myself any favors by starting on day negative two (because I started two days before I started detox). Math isn’t my strong suit under the best of circumstances. I suppose it goes without saying – I mean, my blog logo is a human hand on fire – these are not the best of times. But I’m pretty sure we’re at day eight.

I head for parts unknown tomorrow. Probably. There’s still a few parts of the plan that need to fall into place, but at the latest I should be settled into a inpatient rehab facility by Sunday. I’m as excited as one could be, I guess, about where I’m going, mainly because I know the clinical director and she’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Smart enough to tell me a thing or two. Which is saying something, because “teachable” is not historically one of the ways people would describe me. Now that I think about it, I don’t think many people in my position are teachable, because to be in my position, you have to have ignored a whole bunch of good advice along the way.

I'd better touch it. Just in case it's awesome.

I’ve had a meltdown or two over the past few days as it’s dawned on me that I’m going to be away from my kids for a while. Apparently I’m a big baby. I always seem to have my moments when I’m reading to them. Dr. Seuss loses a little of his whimsy when Daddy’s crying while he reads it. What can I say, I’m half Italian: my feelings are most definitely on my sleeve.

Posting may be a bit erratic over the next few days as I get settled in, but I’ll post something every day. How can we preach one day at a time here at Soul Worn Thin if I leave you, my loyal readers (all six of you), with a day missing. We never know when you’ll need us most. As I noted in my first post: most of us are just a little nudge from oblivion in one direction and doing the next right thing in the other.

Day 3. Chicken Salad.

April 16, 2011

Today I felt a little better and I felt a little ambitious and so I went out there and I did some stuff and I drove a little bit. I didn’t actually accomplish anything, or remember the whole thing, and I required a three-hour nap when I got home. But boy-howdy, we did stuff today. I’ll make a note tomorrow to check the undercarriage of my car for a dead pedestrian.

In a Prius, the pedestrian has at least even odds. This is not a Prius.

I did manage to make one hell of a chicken-salad sandwich today; to wit: pulled chicken (from one of those rotisserie chickens you can get at just about any grocery store now), mayonnaise, sour cream, relish,  salt, pepper, dill seasoning, grapes (cut in half), walnuts, served on grilled bread with lettuce, apple slices and melted swiss. Dill sprigs are optional but now I’m just showing off. Not necessarily health food, but a lot better than main-lining Kit-Kats.

The team of my choice had an important event today, but if I revealed who and what I would significantly narrow down my potential biographical particulars. So I’ll just have to say that a sporting thing happpened today and it went pretty well. Not as good as a win, it’s the off-season, but it was pretty good. You can tell my committment to my anonymity is less than resolute. The truth is that it may not matter to me as I continue to write, but since it’s impossible to put that toothpaste back in the tube, I will be circumspect in handling the subject. For now.

I hope that once I get through detox there will be a little more cohesion to my narrative. There’s a lot of prologue to my story (beyond my clever post titles from a few days back), and a lot a of texture to my personality. The past few days it’s all I can do to write something down. I’ll crank up the narrative in the next few days.

Oh, today’s drugs: phenbobarbitol, 60 mg, three times a day; clonidine, .1 mg, three times a day; visteril, 25 mg; three times a day. Yummy.


Put Title Here.

April 16, 2011

"Sunny days" my ass...

As the title of today’s post suggests, I feel a little blah. Not up, not down, just blah. I have found it very difficult to post the past three days. So it is with a certain amount of authority that I can tell you alcohol withdrawal and detox saps your will to live creativity. This morning at 10 a.m. sharp, we had visit number seven from the nurse who takes my vitals and gives me the drugs (vistaril, phenobarbitol, and clonidine) that have the combined effect of putting me in a coma preventing seizures and keeping my blood pressure down. In case you haven’t noticed, I figured out how to use the “strike-through” feature today.

I suppose I feel a little better today, although I mean that in the I’m-not-miserable sense, not the I’m-so-happy-and-can’t-wait-to-tackle-the-day sense. However, I could probably bring myself to tackle other people who feel so happy they’re ready to tackle the day. People with perfect exercise outfits really annoy me right now; I’d start with them. From there, I’d move on to people who use catch-phrases like “24/7,” “it is what it is” or “stop stealing my laptop.” Lots of other people annoy me too: short-sleeves with a tie? Tackled (what are you, a dentist?). If you drive a Prius, I’m probably going to tackle you; while you’re driving your Prius.


People who are good at golf, wear captain’s hats without irony, and who have an iPhone 4. Tackled, tackled, tackled. Wow this group is getting large. People who have anything I don’t have, possess a skill I don’t possess, or who have cheekbones that are a little too high or who are otherwise incredibly good-looking: tackled, tackled and tackled.  There.  All that is left are the people I can look down on. Great, now I feel nauseous. I’ll publish this and come back later. Maybe I’ll even title it.

Holy Sweets, Batman

April 16, 2011

Ah, breakfast...

I can’t get enough sweet stuff to eat. Fortunately, I have on hand candy of every variety you can imagine, plus a menagerie of cinnamon cakes, chocolate cookie cakes, and blueberry muffin cakes my mom keeps on hand, just in case. You know, just in case a lost Christmas elf stops by. Or, as the case may be,  a detoxing alcoholic. And then there’s Extreme Moose tracks ice cream. I do not anticipate that starvation is a phenomena I’ll have to address here in these pages.

I cannot stress this enough: do not eat Moose tracks you see in the wild. TOTALLY different thing, trust me.

There are two things at work here in my body: the Clonidine and the lack of refined sugars in my system that were formerly supplied by alcohol. Benzodiazepines have always had this effect on me; it’s one of the more pleasant and wholesome aspects of my drug addiction. You should see what I can do to a box of Lucky Charms when I wake up from a binge that included a xanax chaser. 

My body is used to running on jet fuel. 110 Octane, highly refined, no fuss no muss. My metabolism had very little work to do by the time it got down to breaking down the food I ate. My metabolism is in for a rude awakening. Good thing my liver is tip-top! What’s that you say?…

Fortunately, I am an optimist. I believe that if it hasn’t killed me, it’s made me stronger. I believe the human body is an unbelievable machine. I  believe that there is plenty of time to reverse the damage from years of drug and alcohol abuse, and I believe that the science bears that out. And it’s a good thing, we’re just in time:

The camera adds a few thousand years.

Imagine what another few years of partying would do to me! I’ve got some ideas for upcoming posts. I’m going to address depression, my cynicism about the treatment industry, the idea that diet plays a role in our moods and a  few other subjects. I might even write about something I know about it

I feel like hell, although I can’t tell you whether that’s because of the drugs to treat the alcohol withdrawal or the withdrawal itself. Which, I suppose, is the point. My initial thought this morning was that I felt hung-over. Which makes sense if it’s true – as people claim – that a hangover is really a mini-withdrawal. Ordinarily, I think the people who say things like that are the same as people who say that LSD stays in your spinal cord forever, or that it takes seven years to digest a piece of gum if you swallow it. People who start a sentence with “I heard that….” Then again, sometimes those people are right.

I always had to look away during this part. Hopefully they used a prosthetic tongue.

I wish I knew which one of the drugs I am taking that makes my mouth so dry; I would probably stop taking it. I avoid taking the Vistaril unless the nurse absolutely insists on it, because when I take that I can just go ahead and forget about the next three hours because I’m going to be asleep. The Clonidine feels familiar to me because it is the same as xanax or the other benzodiazepines. It’s a decent port in the storm.

My brain is definitely not firing on all cylinders. Which makes for interesting conversation when the nurse starts asking me questions. A common one is how do I feel. I don’t know how I feel. I feel like shit. But I can’t say that because then there’s a follow-up question: what doesn’t feel good. What doesn’t feel good is the lack of a drink in my hand, and unless you’re prepared to remedy that situation, don’t ask me to describe what doesn’t feel good.

I definitely don’t feel like thinking about how to describe what specifically doesn’t feel good. Even in an ordinary context, this irritates me. My wife had a habit of asking me  “what specifically doesn’t feel good” when I said I didn’t feel good. Like I hadn’t yet met my burden of proof that I really didn’t feel good. Unless I have an acute stomach issue – in which case I am probably lying on the bathroom floor, or calling the dinosaurs – there’s usually not just one specific thing. I just don’t feel good. They have a word for it: general malaise.

Under these circumstances, I really have a hard time telling you what specifically the problem is. It’s everything and nothing all at once. For one thing, I’m tired of being cooped up and not being able to go anywhere without an escort. I expected that giving up a portion of my independence would be part of this deal, but I kind of thought that wouldn’t happen until I went to rehab. I haven’t had my own car (in a meaningful sense) since Monday, and I guess I wasn’t quite ready to give up the ability to come and go as I pleased until next week.

Physically, I’m having a hard time deciding whether the disease is better or worse than the cure. The one thing I know for sure is that I hate everything. I hate having to ask if I can get in my car and go around the corner from the house. I hate not having control of my finances, my schedule, my life. I suppose this, as much as anything, is a reason to get well.

Four scientists agree that O'Doyle in fact rules. Not four out of five. Just the four.

I’m tempted to tell you that if you don’t “get” Billy Madison, then stop reading right now because you don’t get me, either. Then I remembered that I want more than six people reading my blog, and I thought better of it. If I’m going to be drawing a line in the sand and suggesting that my readers must get concept/movie/book/philosophy X in order to “get” me, then I’d better make it a popular concept/movie/book/philosophy. Which causes me to wonder out loud: why do critics bother with comedies with people like Adam Sandler or Chris Farley (1964 -1997, R.I.P.)? We know these movies don’t have any redeeming qualities, they’re just ridiculous! And really, really funny (“Nudie magazine day!’ How many times have I said that?). Stupid critics.

If I can be honest, the last thing I felt like doing today is posting, but it is very important to me to write something every day. You never know when someone might stop by for the first time, and when I visit a site and it hasn’t been updated in a few days, I keep browsing.  My drug regimen today (the drugs to get me off the drugs, that is: never did the expression “fight fire with fire” have so literal an application): three rounds of a weight-adjusted dose of phenobarbitol (primarily an anti-seizure medication), Vistaril (for anxiety) and clonidine (also for anxiety and to suppress withdrawal). I can barely keep my eyes open. Although I don’t think the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal would have really kicked in by now, the experts  like for the drugs to be in your system for a period of time before withdrawal takes up residence in your brain; in all likelihood sometime tonight.  

The best Jerry...the BEST!

My MD is the best, and the nurse she set me up with is top-flight at well. Their primary concern is my comfort, and there is not a trace of judgmentalism in either of them. They actually came to our house today, like an old-fashioned house-call. They even had the old-school doctor’s bag with all their tools and various what-nots in it. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting.

As for me, I’m tired, a little irritable and my tongue feels like sandpaper (one of the medicines has given me dry mouth; either that or I ate a bag of cotton balls). I feel like I’m underperforming today. But then again, you did get the Billy Madison and Banya references. Therefore, citing health concerns, I shall sign off before I fall asleep and my head falls into the keyboard a la Don Music.


April 12, 2011

This guy knows...

My experience with withdrawal is limited to opiates, at least until Thursday morning. However, I will be undergoing a medical detox (primarily for alcohol) and should be pretty comfortable. In the case of opiate withdrawal, anyone who has any mileage on them with this class of drugs has experienced it. It is the devil incarnate. Most experienced junkies would choose an easy and quick death over withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal – insomnia, cold sweats, the shakes, muscle contractions, diarrhea, a penetrating chill that you feel in your bones, a feeling that you will never be happy again – sound bad enough. But withdrawal is more than the sum of its parts. Most people with the flu (to which withdrawal is often compared) would not tell you that they contemplated suicide. Most people who have experienced withdrawal have considered it. For me the worst part is the insomnia – this is also the key distinguishing feature from the flu. When you have the flu, your body puts you to sleep to heal. Withdrawal is accompanied with a miserable insomnia. It’s as if your body is saying, “oh no you don’t, you’re staying awake for this shit so you don’t do it to me again!”

Withdrawal is like labor pains in that you almost forget about it until it hits. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but one of the features of opiate use for me is a form of denial about what’s waiting for me at the end. Almost as if I’m surprised when I wake myself up with a jerk with one of the by-now all-too-familiar muscle spasms in my legs. For me that first day is accompanied by a metallic taste in my mouth too. So there I am, 6 a.m.: wide awake with the realization that today is really going to suck. Then the questions begin: how did I do this again? Why did I do this again? Self-loathing by the bucketful (punctuated by the commentary of a less-than-sympathetic wife). What little energy I have is reserved for texting my drugodex of opiates users and pushers to find just enough to feel somewhere above death. Usually I don’t have to say more than “In a bind; can you help?” One of the interesting things about the vast majority of opiate users is that if someone can help you out, they usually will, especially if they can relate. Honor amongst junkies, I suppose. There are friends of mine to whom I am truly grateful, who have bailed me out in a pinch: for job interviews, important work or family functions. I feel this way even though they were technically enabling me. It was the only way they knew how to help out, but they did, and there are some days that truly would have been disastrous for me if they hadn’t.  

Once withdrawal hits, it gets worse for about 48 hours before it gets better. The peak symptoms for me are right around the 48-hour mark. For a while I had the discipline not to buy any dope if I couldn’t get a Suboxone chaser. But as these things usually work, I eventually stopped caring. My worst days on this earth have been when I am on a three or four-week trip and run out of dope and money. My fellow junkies can relate: I can be damn resourceful when I’m in that state. I have never stolen anything, but I have manipulated the hell out of people. without revealing too much about me, I am an independent contractor (read: unemployed) in a profession that pays by the hour. And I can think of all kinds of people who owe me money when I’m in a bind. You can’t even imagine how daunting it is to wake up in full withdrawal with no money, and have to get your shit together enough to find someone who will pay you money, and then find a fix. Daunting, but not impossible. In that state, once I find the pills, I don’t even swallow them: I chew them into paste. My mom would be so proud.

The spectre of withdrawal drives everything in a junkie’s life. As I said in an earlier post, physical addiction is primary: it must be dealt with first. And my two good friends alcohol and cocaine don’t do shit for me when I’m in withdrawal from opiates. Assholes. Suboxone has put a swift and merciful end to the cycle for me. Drugs are a wonderful thing when you take them as prescribed. Suboxone is made up of two drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a slow-acting opiate with a high-binding affinity. Naloxone is an opiate antagonist that blocks other opiates. Between the high-binding affinity of buprenorphine and the opiate antagonist properties of naloxone, other opiates don’t work.  When Suboxone is in my system – which it is for a while, due to a 24-hour half-life – a handful of tabs avails me nothing, save for some acetaminophen damage to my liver. (Hooray Tylenol!). And drug cravings for me work like this: CRAVING —-> phone call —–> in car on way to drug dealer’s house, all within the span of thirty seconds. It’s not the kind of thing where I say, man I’d like some drugs, I think I’ll wait 48 hours for the Suboxone to stop working and go get some. So for me, Suboxone has dealt a crippling blow to my dance with opiates (cue ominous music and black-and-white stills of chopped cocaine on a mirror and alcohol a la Behind the Music, lest we think I’m all better).

Withdrawal is hell. That is the bottom line. It’s not sexy or romantic. Part of the appeal of drugs is the feeling of insight: “I know something you don’t know, because you’re too scared to try, or because your mommy told you not to do it, or because Nancy Reagan told you not to do it, or because your God told you not to do it, or because you’re too much of a conformer or too stupid or too uncreative or too mainstream to know any better. ” When you’re in withdrawal, you see these things for the ridiculous vanities they are. And worse: they are the height of banality too. You don’t feel too clever when you’re in withdrawal. Mommy was right.