Monday, May 25, 2009

Frustrated. It started because of a book...

I've had a nice quiet long weekend with Mr. Salted; we went to see "Star Trek" and I didn't fall asleep, yesterday he grilled steaks, etc. etc. My ankle is hurting all the time now, and I'm not doing anything beyond the ordinary. I just take ibuprofen for it and listen to it pop when I walk. My last support group meeting is tomorrow night, and in a couple of weeks I'll have the six-month appointments with the nutritionist and exercise physiologist so we can resubmit to insurance for approval for surgery. I also found another dentist to go to; a friend of a friend is the hygienist. They won me over in part because they don't charge for nitrous. Sure, I have to drive an hour and a half, but if I like the dentist, I don't care! I'm going to try and stop the exercise physiologist visits for a while, at least until after I've had ankle surgery and am coming back from that; the last few months, it feels like I'm just setting fire to the copay money.

So, I read this book in a day and it frustrated me. The book is "Tweak" by Nic Sheff; the subtitle is "Growing Up On Methamphetamines". (His father, David Sheff, wrote a book about his son's addiction and their relationship, called "Beautiful Boy". I haven't read that one yet.)

Let me just say, I applaud anyone who has the courage and takes the time to write the truth about their life. I think the more books are out there that show what the world is really like from different points of view, the better. I wasn't as mad as everyone else seemed to be at James Frey, but I took creative nonfiction classes at university. As a writer, I err more on the side of writing your memoir as you remember and experience than what everyone else tells you happened, but that's neither here or there with this particular book.

The writing isn't bad at all--not terrible, but nothing particularly special, either. However, the attention to detail is fabulous, and it's a quick read. I read another review of "Tweak" on Visual Bookshelf or Goodreads that said every addict's story is the same. There is some truth in that statement, though I find it to be a gross overgeneralization.

I was frustrated by this book because its author had not only every opportunity in the world and two loving parents, but a seemingly endless supply of family friends and people that just fall out of the sky to help and care about him--and he's too deep into his disease to be cultivating those relationships, they are just there for him whenever he decides to need them. He says at various points in the book that he knows what he's thrown away and who he's hurt and how alone he feels, but then his parents are still there to pay for treatment and therapy and rehab and sometimes college and he still has their connections so that he can go on book tours with his father and have this fabulous career at the end. I felt manipulated when I finished the book--yes, addiction is harrowing, and the drug life is full of unsavory people and needless suffering and death--but how "on the edge" could this person really have been when he had not only a lot of advantages, but his youth as well? It was all just there waiting for him, whenever he decided to start appreciating it--it wasn't like he was just born into a mess he didn't ask for. Coming up from that, if you can, takes decades--and it ain't glamorous. I can attest that there's usually no book tour, with your father or anyone else, at the end.

I think this book frustrated me on a number of levels that have very little to do with Nic Sheff at all. Whether or not every addict's story is the same, every person's story has value. I don't care how rich or famous you are--I don't think anyone is born automatically more worthy or interesting than anyone else. There are a great many of people who could have been contributing more positively to society in any number of ways--if there had been someone there to pay for their rehab, their therapy, or help them to go back to school--or just love them unconditionally and try to keep them safe as they grew up. There are a lot of people who don't even get to breathe anymore because they happened to not be lucky or have the inner strength to keep plodding along through life and trying. The people who get to write these bestselling memoirs are, nine times out of ten, people who had some semblance of a safety net, whether it was parents, husband, Great-Aunt Matilda, or all of the above. I'm not just frustrated because of my own life and its path to date, though that certainly contributes to this rant...I'm thinking of a thousand tragic stories I've heard--and a million more none of us will ever get to hear. It doesn't seem fair that this is true when there is so much to learn from every person's life experience--including that of Nic Sheff.

I want to make this frustration I'm feeling now motivate me to try and do something more with my own talents, much as I have transformed many negative emotions and experiences in my early life into motivation to achieve as an adult. That's what I'm going to try and take away from this today.

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This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other
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