You struggled to park an invisible car on Fillmore because your piercing was stuck to a fire hydrant. Stuck like the rest of us. Under another spell of moral authority. Believing real emotions drawn from deceptive acts. A medium slips voodoo bags in all the right places. A spiritual advisor advises a touch. A guru reaches too far. The priest hides it all. Power seeks vulnerability, speaking in silence. Those who can’t afford buy lotto tickets. Talking to God, never hearing back. Hoping and hopeless for another chance. Anything to divert attention and responsibility from this current mess. Enters the magician. Playing with projection to manipulate. To create a feeling of awe, allure, amazement. Shock value. And we love to feel, even fear. The heightened pulses and rising temperatures. Cranking up fields. Just the way the man behind the curtain likes it: wrapped in a mist of confusion. Divine delirium quiets. Shh, don’t question it. No reason to reason with fog. But what really happened? Pure deception and perception. Hinging until it breaks and you see the truth underneath the pain, the shame, the neglect, the harm. A universal craving for psychological attention. Falling into traps and release.
Can the inequality of psychological distress due to migration be seen as a bioethics issue?
The privilege to pause. Under the fan of a whitewashed Colonial deck. That’s the first mango tree I’ve ever seen. This place reeks, humid with humans. Reserving a spot to lounge all day. Smoothing out stripes under mutating rays. A welcomed breeze. The bluest blues. Beers and fries with lunch. And this expectation to love everything about it. To match the atmosphere. Don’t worry, be happy. How could you be anything but in a place like this? Doused in SPF 50+ and bug spray. Still the only one with mosquito bites. Just five more days… Should I have a drink? “You can swerve on the road, you won’t get pulled over.” These bridges are empty anyway. How is this even Dutch? Was it peaceful, was it violent? It was violent. Abandoned multicolored mansions built on sand. We reminisce the past, but can’t remember it. We were never there. Hand picking parts of a whole. Thousands of slaves passed through these stone walls and I couldn’t find a sign. Just a mall. “Real Curaçaoans don’t like the Dutch,” she said. But so it is. They pour in to sleep and swim and pose on the beach. Fly in for a season or two to take the better service jobs. Front of house, pouring French wine. A hostess from the Hague said she likes it better here because the people greet each other. Hi ma’am, yes ma’am. How do you do? Can I ask you a question? What’s the source of that custom? I’m just looking for some sugar. The locals work the night shift — the cashiers, the janitors, the guards of gated communities. Descendants of stolen people. Pay the price to enjoy. A golf course in the desert. This island always catered to his comfort. But the checkered families brighten my mood. Feeding stray cats kipper snacks. A live band rotates at the Miles jazz bar. Drums, bass, timbales, congas, piano. La vida tiene sabor and it’s thick. Culture rich. A quarter later, gigging in my highchair. Now I can relax. “So what..?” written on black shirts. Dutch punks with tattooed arms serving Curaçaoans straight. Cuban rum, Italian grappa. The first Pernod I’ve found in Latin America. Ass sweat on a wood seat. The kid’s frown itself was jazz music. The kind of rhythm you don’t learn. Hands so fast you can’t see. The lights are shaking. Rastas speaking Dutch. Music as resilience. A lineage of pain. But somehow smiles and tunes so unifying. Warm. Sam, wake up, there are pink flamingos outside. Of course the church habla español. Why is Daddy Yankee headlining the jazz festival? Spoonfuls of full-fat European yogurt. Gouda and salami. We met a Dutch guy who’s been living here for 14 years over rolled tobacco. He showed us on his phone the finca he bought outside of Medellín. Said it cost close to nothing. His son speaks four languages at four. Almost stepped on broken glass on the floor. Tiny shells in my pocket. A lizard came to my call. Question where you lay to rest. We have access to the information, but will we use it?
Is critique inherently negative?
The transition from fully committed to quitting was slow to start. My hours of operation started to sync with my circadian rhythm. The 9–5 became 8–3. Mornings were so efficient that by midday, I’d be fried. Done with screens, done with meetings. So I’d leave the office early.
On a microdose of acid, I’d feel completely in tune with my energy capacity, unable to ignore the afternoon dip. There was no more gray area of hanging around the office or poking around on Twitter, letting the time slip as the outside world turned. No more “should I stay or should I go” debacles in my head. I couldn’t sit (er, stand) at my desk any longer for the optics of working a few extra — unproductive — hours. I realized the work would never be done, so it was up to me when to go. And as soon as I felt accomplished for the day, I’d slip out the door. Down the stairs. Into the sunlight.
I didn’t initially start microdosing at work for the professional edge like many people in tech. I started to manage shifting moods that made it hard to leave my apartment. To feel better just being. And it worked. I felt happier and more comfortable within myself. I took it on workdays because I wanted to stay consistent in my regimen (one day on, three days off). Heightened imagination, concentration, and energy at work were really just nifty side effects. But eventually, this new way of feeling, thinking, existing made it much harder to spend time in the office.
After microdosing for six months, I didn’t progress at work; I quit.
The urge to preserve. Keep my few things organized. A pink case for my fineliner and gel pens, separated from the pencils, separated from the markers. Within the case, a small bag for my eraser and sharpener. Everything in its proper place. Set aside to ~save~ some future time or ease this high, racing mind. Compartmentalizing thoughts into objects. What’s the point? It’s a Thursday morning and I don’t know what to do with myself. I could open an app, any app, but they all give me the creeps right now. I could read, I should read. I could pack. We’re picking up and going again in two weeks. But I can’t be bothered to pack. Maybe another bowl. I don’t feel drawn to anything in particular, just pulled by various keys I type into this board. Launching sites and distractions to new stimuli. So much to know. So much to see. So much to hear. But right now I just want to turn it all off. Airplane mode, wifi off, just a notepad. Maybe a book. Why is it so hard to turn it all off and focus on the words in front of me? Others take their place. Sentences keep lining up into endless thoughts. Of what? Mush. This to that to this to that. People places things. The music in the cab home last night. Some concepts of reality and insanity. Things keep moving and I don’t know why. “Slow down, try meditating.” If I had more or less to do would I think less or more? This strain of weed doesn’t work well with me. Override. Overkill. Overthrown. It was free, and it works, so I can’t complain. But it must be an indica. A weird one. Prefer the way sativa rearranges my mind and tricks myself into thinking everything I’m working on is the most important thing I could be working on. Illusory efficiency in doing. This high makes me want to melt into a sandwich or watch HBO or mindlessly think about what to do next, until there is too much or nothing to do next, until I spend an hour, or one minute, thinking about what to do next. Uncertain. Where’s Sam? Maybe if we were both high we could figure out what to do next together. Instead I’m just looking towards west-side Medellín and wondering if I’m capable of reading this book in front of me. One Hundred Years of Solitude. I’m nearly half-way through, but I haven’t picked it up in a while. Read others since. I don’t remember where I was on the family tree. Which generation? So many characters. Trying to find where I left off in lines and names across time.
I was 14. A freshman. In the backseat. The car full of older boys. Three juniors, one sophomore. It was a four-seater Ford Explorer. My spot in the middle had no belt. We were drinking and smoking. They had these mini Coors and a massive blunt was being passed around. Immortal Technique was blasting. Point of No Return. Of course he had a sub in the back. I always wanted to complain about the volume and drifting tires, but I never did. Every cell was screaming: this is not good. I wanted to speak, but the words just never came out. I didn’t want to be that girl. I felt silenced. We were going 75 down a curvy 15. I forget the name of the road. Scotts? Smith? Something with an S. They used to bomb it all the time. On a skateboard, in a car. It connected Kennedy and Shannon in Los Gatos. Fuck, I forget. But I remember the rest. They were all screaming, “scare the shit out of her!” I guess they all wanted to scare me? I don’t know, but next thing we were drifting towards a fence. And a tree. Time stopped between the bumps in the music and I couldn’t hear a thing. I flew over Matt and my head broke through the side window. My vision dripped red like Game Over in GoldenEye 007. I put my hand to my head and it was wet. Blood kept flowing. My ex and I left the scene and went to the Burger King public restroom to wipe up my bloody face before getting me home. We pulled up outside my house. I didn’t want to tell my parents what happened but wanted someone to check my head. So I lifted my hoodie up, walked up the driveway, put on an I’m-not-blitzed face as I opened the front door, and went straight to the bathroom I shared with my brothers. Turned on the shower, soaked my hair, knocked over a bottle of shampoo, faked a loud gasp. After that pathetic little charade, I went to my mom to show her the gash. The words spilled out. Shaking and inaudible. I fell in the shower and hurt myself, it bled a lot. Do I need stitches? She said it looked like a clean cut. Phew. I disappeared back into my room. Parted my hair and took a picture with my flip phone. Uploaded the photo of my skull to Myspace with the caption “Fuck.” Willy, the driver, years later, said that post made his heart stop. That accident made my heart stop. Still does to this day anytime I’m in the backseat of a car with an aggressive (always been male) driver. It’s not speed that scares me, but speed accompanied with stupidity. Cutting people off. Whipping the passengers around like rag dolls. Riding too close. Constantly slamming on the breaks. Jerking the wheel back and forth. Trying to pass without visibility. Happens more than I’d like it to, riding in cars with strangers who quickly reveal themselves. The occasional cabbie, some random friend of a friend. It happened just yesterday. On the way back from Jardín to Medellín. Sam’s cousin was driving. His wife always takes a pill before the ride apparently, to sleep through it. They both prayed before we left. That gesture. The father, the son, and the holy ghost. And as soon as the car was in drive, I was his subject again. To his sheer violence. Personified anger. He must have cut off 40 cars ahead of us. Going three times the speed limit. Weaving in and out of cars on a winding two-lane road through the mountains. Speeding into oncoming traffic. Right before a blind turn. Brake fast, lash forward. Apparently this is normal here and no one really questions it, not even after an ambulance comes to take them away. The ones in the back who couldn’t say no. Again, I didn’t have a seatbelt, because he had them tucked behind into the trunk. One arm stretched straight to the seat ahead of me and the other gripping hard on the grab handle. My heart was racing. I’ve never felt more uncomfortable, unsafe. I’ve never been in a car with such an asshole, of all the assholes. His ego, his issues, held above the well-being of others. I wanted to ask him why. “Why do you drive like this?” “What’s wrong?” “Are you okay?” How could he do this? But I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t question his disrespect, his disregard, his way. Silenced again. Powerless and paralyzed. My own safety beyond my control, my consent. In the hands of a madman. It felt like abuse. All I could do was cry. So I started sobbing uncontrollably while looking out the window. Why was I in that car? Why didn’t we get the bus back or drive separate? Sam asked him to slow down, and said I was feeling unwell. He couldn’t question him either. Afraid of the snap. The car was silent other than his 80s playlist. Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper, Toto, Alan Parsons Project. But my discomfort brought even more awkwardness to the car. I felt guilty, like I was the problem. What was worse: my reaction or the reality? I couldn’t bear to face him. I wanted to vanish. What was I going to say when I said goodbye? Thanks for the ride? Sorry for being so scared, it’s just I… I felt like I should be the one to say sorry. To apologize for my fear. For bringing it up. Luckily we hit traffic. He was forced to stay in his lane, so I was finally able to calm down a bit. To enjoy the scenery. Lush, green, but with the window down, still smelled like gasoline. I kept wondering. Why? Why’d he put us through that? Does he always do this? And to who else? Why didn’t he feel remorse? Why didn’t his wife care? Why didn’t he say sorry? All for what? Because he liked it? Because his brain’s already scattered into a million pieces? Just because? No. Not again. I wiped my cheeks, relieved to be that girl. I wasn’t sorry. I was right. Maybe I’d just tell him to take care. Because he needs to. To fulfill the upheld expectation of appreciation for the ride, I ended up just saying thanks, bye in a blur. He’ll never know the way he made me feel.
It’s easier to establish a voice after leaving home. Surrounded by expression so foreign from my own makes me feel more alone. And there’s comfort in the solitude. Background voices merge into a mush of sounds. Hidden in a cafe, away on a train. Language becomes noise. Until I hear my own. That familiar accent pierces past and I distract. Mind deciphers meaning. “We sold two so far.” “She was so wasted she couldn’t stand.” “Should I be writing this all down?” The words of others crowd my mind and expel any I want to read or write. Familiarity pauses attention. Everything stops. I fall under a spell of the known, craving the strange again. Lips moving in silence. Everywhere I go, one language turns up the volume and pulls me back. Drowns out stream of thought. The others become a sea of sound I can sense, but not grasp. A loss of comprehension can liberate. Submerged in the unknown, searching for significance. An inner voice becomes more clear. More distinct. I can think.
Is all theory anecdotal if free will is a myth? If we had no control over the world we entered, the books written before us, or the options presented to us, then isn’t any theory/choice constructed by our very personal, lived experiences?