Archive for May, 2012

A mortal’s thoughts on death and dying

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2012 by jimcolemanmusic

First to  note: I am through the roof busy. So I should not be taking the time to write this. But when I get to this state of being busy, my brain’s processes start functioning in a slightly different way, slightly more poetic and non-linear. Which is a good state of mind to be in when writing. Unless one is writing a business brief or a budget.

So, it came to me a few minutes ago while in discussion with someone I work with that I would truly hate to die laughing. At least the way I envisioned it. Somehow I had a very detailed vision, where I was stuck in a theater, with all the house lights up, and everyone in the theater was laughing hysterically, completely out of control.  At first it was funny and strange, but then it started hurting, then the pain turned to tears, like when you laugh so hard that you are crying (which I love by the way, and has only happened a handful of times in my life). The tears turned to involuntary bodily excretions, our bodies were breaking down, out of control. And slowly, one by one, we just could not catch our breath, and our laughing turned to brutal rasps, desperate attempts to get air in to our lungs. Yet still we laughed. Finally, one by one, and sometimes in small groups, we would keel over, our faces bright red, showing a mixture of fear, surprise and laughter. And, at long last, there was stillness and quiet. All this, passing through my head while mid-stream in a discussion. And I wonder, is that weird? Or does everyone have those kinds of projections?

While we are on the topic of death and dying, I have a few other thoughts that sometimes circle through my being. One is the morbidly funny idea that the afterlife is an eternal frozen moment of the split second when you die. For example, if your last moments were locked in the passenger seat of a 1980 K car as it careened off the Williamsburg Bridge, your personal eternity would be that sensation of “OH SHIIIT!” Pretty bad, I would not want to be there forever. Christ, a overdose would be better. Same phrase (“Oh, shit”), but a very different inflection.

I thank god that we are mortal. I don’t have any defined thoughts on what’s next, if anything. I guess, if you got to become immortal in your early 20’s it wouldn’t be so bad. At that time in life, the world is yours, even if you don’t know it. No concerns, responsibilities. I recall at that age if I had enough money for beer and cigarettes, all was good. But as I got older, I started carrying more weight. I got responsibilities, I got people who love me and whom I love. I got a house, cars, a music studio with too much gear. All that stuff could go away, all the material stuff. But I’d still have the primary relationships, the family who I carry, and who carries me. This is love, this is a gift, but it’s also a responsibility. Especially with a kid. I have a 9 year old daughter, who I love fiercely. And I want to help her grow and evolve, get comfortable in her own skin, find her own beliefs, enjoy her childhood, give her the best education possible. I want that for her, and am willing to work towards that, even if it means I can’t live as carelessly as I did in my earlier life. And I deeply love my wife, which also means I can’t live as I did earlier in my life. I was very self destructive in my 20’s. In the guise of freedom, rebellion, and embracing an “outsider” status, I ended up in a self constructed cage made of a wide variety of chemical compounds. That cage is still fucking attractive, even knowing the deep deep pain that is contained in there. Maybe it feels safe in there, nothing can get to me, nothing can hurt me because I’m turned off (I don’t care if Timothy Leary said it was turned on). Well, that’s a different kind of death isn’t it? And honestly, when I was in the deep depths of that living death (which definitely had it’s glory, don’t get me wrong, that flame burned bright and hot, burning up anything around it), I felt like the one’s who OD’d were the lucky ones. They found a way out, a solution to the dilemma.

I went through various periods of time where death came to those around me. When I was young, in elementary school, a friend of mine died. He was a passenger in a car that his older brother was driving. That was the first death I recall. I didn’t know how to make sense of it. I spent a few days looking through the bible, thinking there must be some connection with religion and God and my friend’s death (even though I don’t think I believed in God then, God was always kind of like Santa Clause). I came up empty. It just seemed like a bunch of boring dogmatic text, it did nothing to illuminate things, to make sense out of this loss. So I put that bible aside and never considered it again.

Then there was a period of time in my early days (elementary school through junior high) where a number of my assorted older relatives died. I remember that open casket services was the norm, but overall my memory of these funerals is quite vague. I don’t know if it was because of these relatives being older, at the end of their lives, or maybe it was in part due to what I went through earlier with the death of my friend, but these deaths didn’t greatly affect me. I felt the loss, but it didn’t feel big, I didn’t dwell on it. My memory of these events was ans is so bad, that my sister once told me in some detail about going to a funeral and getting stuck in the airport overnight due to a storm. We slept on the floor in the airport, the simple journey turned in to a saga. I recalled nothing of this.

I got turned on to dope by three individuals: Erl, Regis and Bill. I was living on Clinton Street, just across from El Sombrero. This location was right in the thick of it, the dealers were often right outside the door. So Er;, Regis and Bill would stop in with some frequency, it was so convenient. They could cop, come right up and get high immediately. And I was an accident waiting to happen.

Actually, the accident had started a while ago. But it was proceeding in such beautiful slow motion, like it was shot at 800 frames per second. So slow that the pain felt like pleasure. I had been doing a mixed bag of whatever was around, pot, coke, acid. And again, while we are reflecting on drugs and death, this other memory comes to mind as I write this.

One night in College I was staying at my girlfriends house. Actually, it was an apartment that she was looking after for someone while they were away. She was gone at the time, it was early evening. I was severely depressed, circling around the idea of offing myself, of excusing myself from this existence. I looked in the medicine cabinet of this complete stranger’s apartment and found a full bottle of valium. Held it for a while, pondered. Figured I could just try a couple, then perhaps in a bit down the bottle. A while later I was rudely awakened by my girlfriend. Apparently she had been overcome by a feeling that I was in trouble, had tried calling. I was out, no one picked up the phone, so she ran back to the apartment. And how did I respond? “Oh don’t worry, everything’s cool. I just fell asleep.” Not sure why, but I’ve always been challenged to expose the depths of my feelings. What would I possibly gain by putting on a happy face rather than say I was on verge of suicide?

Anyway, prior to my indoctrination with Erl and Regis and Bill, I hadI never tried dope. Dope seemed to be on another level. On the outside looking in, you could say, well, I’m not doing that. It could bolster yourself up a bit. But I found that from the inside looking out, it could take on the defensive posture of belonging to a very underground society, a club. Like you were in the know, holding this dark secret.

Within a week of turning me on (or turning me off, I guess), Bill was dead. OD. This was sad, and we dealt with our sorrow by doing more dope. For me, another early warning that went unheeded. Time went faster and faster, and our habits grew. Looking back, I have no idea how we kept doing it, it seems unsustainable on a very basic level. It seems unsustainable financially, let alone psychically, emotionally, spiritually or physically. As mentioned, a good number of people I knew OD’d. The one who hit me the hardest I think was Charlie Ondres, the drummer from The Unsane.

My band Cop Shoot Cop shared a rehearsal space with the Unsane. I used to hang out and get high with Chris, who really helmed the band. I never really got high with Charlie, but he always seemed tom be having fun, enjoying life. Never taking anything too seriously. Kind of like an overgrown kid. Which could possibly be said of all addicts really. More than anything, Charlie exuded positiveness, and this was in short order. The sudden loss of Charlie felt really heavy. Everything just got heavier and darker after that. The “party life” started feeling more like a job, something I had to do rather than something I wanted to do.

I realize that I need to end this post now, though I am certain that there will be follow ups to it. This post started with the statement that I was too busy to be writing this at all. And this wasn’t written in one sitting. The business has not abated, and is actually picking up. And if I don’t pause now, this may never get posted, it will just sit in the draft section for so long that it loses it’s power and presence. But this story ain’t over, so rest assured that more will come…