Fear of Erica Jong

It's nothing a drink will help.

It’s nothing a drink will help.

As the plane approached Albuquerque, it started to buck and roll with turbulence.  It was the kind where the pilot tells the flight attendants to take their seats.  Fucking great.  Wings tipping.  Seats shaking.  Deep drops and soul rolls.   Here and there, some involuntary yelps from passengers.

Once from here, for sure.  It sounded like someone stepped on a puppy.  Couldn’t contain it.  Just slipped out.

It’s not my favorite thing, doing turbulence, not drunk.

There are only a few things that I can say are better done drunk than sober.  The first is, of course, dancing.  Especially if you’re white.  The second is getting arrested.  Tried it both ways, and it was better drunk.  The last thing is bouncing around violently in a tube of aluminum, thousands of feet from the earth.

If I could have my choice, I’d always prefer to do that drunk.  While I know it’s better for me to not be drunk during times like these, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t easier shit-hammered out of my gourd.

I used to walk down the aisle to get to more booze, the plane’s shaking counteracting my stumbling so that I’m stepping straight, and make announcements to my fellow passengers.

“This is a great day to die!”  “We’re all going to die anyway. Let’s fucking get it over with.”  “Death can’t be worse than tomorrow morning!”

Stuff like that.  In my head I was keeping up everyone’s morale.  I wanted my lack of fear to inspire them.  To give them the courage to plunge to their deaths stoically.  Bravely.  Resolutely.  Even joyfully.

You know, shit-faced drunkenly.

If there’s ever a situation that I really can see myself blowing my sobriety, it’s on an airplane that’s going down.  If the cocktail cart starts rolling down the aisle as we plummet, I’d like to say I wouldn’t stick my foot out to stop it.  That I would choose to die sober.  Locked in solemn prayer.  Instead of trying to shot-gun down as many miniatures as possible… before our fiery wreckage scatters across a sewage treatment facility.  Or a field of beets.

But I really can’t.  I can’t be sure I wouldn’t drink.  As an alcoholic, you never can be… too sure.  It’s the nature of the disease.

For now, I was content to sit quietly in my seat.  Asshole, fists and teeth clenched.  Locked in solemn prayer.  First to The Creator.  Then on down the spiritual hierarchy.  I’m going through arch angels, regular angels, Kerubim, avatars, saints, sages, ascended masters, Buddhist holy men, Kabbalistic wise men.

I’m beseeching mercy like a mother.

My girlfriend is gripping my hand numb.  She’s a Christian, so she’s talking to Jesus.  Not a bad call to make.  I’ve dialed that hotline myself.  Quite a few times.  More than this heretic would care to admit.  What can I say?  He comes through, but sometimes I think because his phone is constantly blowing up with requests he gets overworked.  So I prefer to add a whole bunch of other spiritual beings to my emergency Rolodex.  Find somebody with more of a gap in their workload.  Somebody standing around waiting to get a call.  And maybe one who specializes in turbulence.

Like the Enochian Angel of the Element of Air.  He who raises and calms the storms.  He who protects air of Air.  Ardza, may Your holy name reflect the ineffable glory of God through eternity.  Help reveal to us His mercy.  Help calm the storm around us.  Help calm the storm in this humble creature’s mind.  Amen.

I look over to Lori.  She’s got her eye’s closed tight.

“We’re going to be okay,” I tell her.  I pat her white, bloodless hand and smile.

She opens her eyes and tries to stretch her grimace into a happy face.  Fails.  Goes back to talking with The Son of God.  Eyes closed.

I don’t blame her.  I don’t get all hurt if she wants to talk to some other guy.  I’m confidant in our relationship.  Besides, this is Jesus.  So I’m totally cool with her dividing her attention, especially at a time like now.

Another dip.  My guts bang against my throat.  They push out a whistling whimper through my teeth.  Not a yelp.  A whimper.  Big difference.  Then another drop.  A long, deep one.   I pictured the altimeter spinning.

I add Jesus to my list.

“Hey.  It’s me, Marius.  I know we don’t talk too much these days, but I’m always thinking about You.  Remember when I was thirteen and I scared myself into thinking I had a brain tumor and I held my illustrated children’s bible and turned my life over to you?  Well, I never officially took it back.  Even though some of my life choices might have made it seem that way.  Well, out of anybody, you’re the go-to guy for forgiveness, so we should be cool.  Right?  Always dug your message.  Just didn’t, you know, dig all the dogma that barnacled around it.  Anyway, if I do die, could you make sure I go to heaven?  And preferably not a weird part of it, like the Mormon’s version…


I felt better right away.  Covered all my bases.  I gave my girlfriend another smile.  This time a real one.

What is death but the unknown?  I seem to be hurtling towards that all the time.  The Unknown.  And Death.  The death of something, at least.  In my life and all around me.  Something dies deader than dead.  And then, sure as shit, something else is born.  Usually something new and improved.  In my life, and all around me.

I thought my life was over when I had to quit drinking.  In a way, it was.  That life died.  But I don’t mourn it.

Because I got an upgrade.

It happens in other areas.  Everyday, I see parts of me die off.  Not like parts parts.  Oh God forbid.  I don’t know who would be appropriate to pray to for a certain special part not to die off.  Priapus?   No, I mean parts of my personality.  Parts I don’t mind shit-canning.  The parts that were spawned in fear.  Ugly parts.  Parts that have worn out their welcome.

I try to replace those parts with the ones born out of love.  Nicer parts.  Shinier ones.

That’s the plan at least.  I don’t know how well I’m doing sometimes.  But dude is trying.  I’m willing to go through the complete overhaul.  Whatever it takes.  I want to be a new and improved version.  I have this nagging need to feel that Whoever/Whatever created me, is proud of Their creation.  Cornball shit, I know.  But there it is.  For real.

The engine screamed in reverse as the wheels touched down.  The cabin clattered like crazy then stopped.  We made it.  As we taxied to our terminal I took a deep breath.  Everything was going to be okay.  It always is.  No matter how scared I get.  If I can remember that, I can keep the yelping to a minimum.  Like with this flight.  Only one.  One audible one.  That’s pretty good.  I’m definitely improving.

Yeah.  This was going to be a good trip.  I kissed Lori’s cold hand.  Then waited for the seat belt light to go off.

23 responses to “Fear of Erica Jong

  1. So glad you made it. I’m just being selfish. I would miss your posts. If you’d died, I’d have to channel you… to keep them coming. The world would be a sadder place without them. I’ve got an idea. Could you like, write a heap and have them sent to someone you trust, so if you did die horribly in a plane crash, we could keep on releasing them for a few years, pretending you were still alive?
    I fear for the sanity of the planet without them.
    Yeah… emergency Marius, break glass and pull handle. Every dull-as-shit building should have one. Think of the joy brother. The joy of text.
    Oh, and btw, add me to your prayer list. I’m the patron saint of wrecking things. I can always be called upon to give a helping hand, when shit’s going down. I’m excellent at speeding up the natural process of disaster – and you know brother that’s the only way we ever get to the other side. Phoenix from the ashes.
    Burn brightly, internal incandescence awaits.

    • It’s good to continue among the living dead, in this realm, which the Egyptians (rather astutely) considered The Underworld. Yeah, I can leave somebody a password to my wordpress site. There’s a whole backlog of blogs. Stuff I felt unworthy of seeing the light of day. At least until I get desperate enough for material. I see it as substandard fare, but what do I know? I know Linda and Black Sparrow kept publishing a lot of Bukowski’s poems. Poems either he or the editor had shoeboxed. I still buy the books, but you can kind of tell, they’re not his first rate shit. And so there’s a little sadness and disappointment that comes from reading them.
      I’d love to inflict that on my readers. There’s nothing like a spoonful of hope tainted with a taste of disappointment. Eat it! It will make you grow up strong. Like Daddy.
      Of course, that’s assuming there would be a void after I go. One must at least delude oneself with that. I remember a co-worker talking to me after he found out I was going to quit this particular job. “You know how much this place will miss you?” he asked. “Not much I guess,” I told him. “Like pulling a finger out a glass of water,” he says. Driving it home with a nice visual. What a fucking dick.
      He was right though.
      I hope my death would be worth at least a couple of ruined afternoons. To somebody out there.
      Anyway, forgive my lack of correspondence, I can only blame mental illness. If only there were a saint I could pray to for that.
      Wait. Hold on. Next comment.
      Love you, John United.

  2. Joseph of Cupertino is the patron saint of air travelers. Wouldn’t hurt to add him to your list. BTW, he is also the patron saint for those with mental handicaps. You just never know…..

    • Thanks, Lola, for the hot travel tip. A saint for air travel and mental handicaps. Good specialty. Very handy. Never knew about him. Joseph of Cupertino, eh? I would have prayed to the Carpeteria genie if I thought it would get us down safely. Actually, if you think about it…genie? Flying carpet? Still Joseph sounds like a better bet. I will certainly add him to my list. Maybe get a tattoo. Thanks again.

  3. Cool chicks dig Jesus – it’s a commandment or something. Perhaps it was a bumper sticker, I don’t recall. But you made in one (yelping) piece, so all the gods, fairies, pixies, daemons, demi-lords and even the ghost of Paul Lynde heard your plight and flapped you down to safety.

    You dig deep here, Sir Marius of Delta. The motif of birth through death is wonderfully tackled here. We live, we drink, we get sober, we die, we live again. We have the super-power of having two lives in one lifetime. Talk about rebirth. Not sure where the placenta goes, but we have a chance at something greater. The Creator or whomever you choose to dance with in your prayers, has bestowed unto us an opportunity for a Cosmic Mulligan. We get the do-over and we break forth into old skin / new skin. We shed like a snake or molt like a lobster and we leave an empty skin behind. We have outgrown it, and get those nice shiny parts you talked about so well. We get to relearn about ourselves, we get the chance to be in a position where we travel with a girlfriend, where we share with the world our adventures and our state of Grace. We get to just be, where were just dead before.

    You earned your wings on this one, Marius, yet again. Beautiful stuff.

    Trudging with the luggage and port-a-potties,


    • A Cosmic Mulligan. Damn I wish that were mine. The phrase that is. Good one. I, like you, got the actual do-over. And yeah, feel really lucky. Gratefruitful.
      I was reading this one dude who was talking about Form versus Force. Forms die all the time. But the force that animates them just takes on another shape. This goes on forever. The Force remains.
      I can work myself up into all kinds of melancholia mourning the loss of forms. Meanwhile, I forget the fact that the force that animates them blazes on. Ready to come out in a new outfit. This time a real Liberace dazzler. What do you want to focus on? That which dies or that which lives? (It sounds like a trick question) Anyway, it appears my sorrow is a choice of perspective, although it doesn’t seem like it when I’m bummed out. Things just suck. And here’s why…
      As for the placenta, Paul, I turned mine into this stylish and sporty scarf. I think it gives me a dashing, roguish look. I like the way it flutters when I barnstorm through chicken coops. Very Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. Speaking of which, Jeff Lucas needs a reply.
      Thanks always for your delightful and insightful comments. You’re always welcome around this airport lounge. And as for the luggage, let’s spring for one of those rental carts. They give you 75 cents back if you return them.
      PS I just got to thinking how I used to not think twice about buying five beers at eight bucks a piece at The Flight Lounge or wherever while waiting for the plane, but would never spring the three bucks to get one of those carts to help with the luggage. Fuck that! I’ll drag all six pieces through the length of Dallas/Ft.Worth rather than waste money like that. Crazy, huh?

  4. I can’t drink on planes. I only get sicker somehow. Worst turbulence of my life so far was flying into New Mexico.It wasn’t turbulence so much as a long, full, nose dive. The stranger next to me gripped my wrist like I was his Mommy except that he was older than I was.The Captain didn’t even apologize afterwards. He must have crapped his pants.

    • Nothing like getting your Red Baron on, in a commercial jetliner. Tweeeeee!!! I’ve never landed in Albuquerque without an ass-pucker. Regardless of how drunk. Something about those desert crosswinds I guess. Hey, I didn’t know you couldn’t drink on planes. How long have we known each other? And I just find this out. I love the fact that in a moment of great fear, an older man held you like you were his mother. Just that this happened in the course of human history, and it went into your brain, makes life worth it. For me, at least. More things like that should happen to you. For my supreme enjoyment. Dude, everything is funnier when it goes into your orbs. I am very glad you exist. And that eyeballs are attached to you.
      Vim chin,

      • …Wuv You, too, Mojo…and you were, and are, and you will always be, a Shamanistic Mojo, that guides us..

  5. You never cease to entertain with your words painting such vivid pictures . and love the little morality tidbits tucked in.

    • Far be it from me to try to tuck any morality into anything. But entertaining, well, that’s something I do try to do. Gotta earn the oxygen I’m using up with something. Thanks for reading, Nurse Judy.

    • Just got to watch it. I’ve seen her before. Very fruitful research. If there was only some way I could relate to ANY of it. I am beyond Shame. I am sociopath! I also liked what she said about vulnerability and innovation. Thanks for this.

      • You actually seem to go in and out of shame (see “Taking the Arsenic Cure…”.) Consider that shame anagrams down to – Should Have Already Mastered Everything, and you may get the other perspective. Unless of course you laud the Sociopathologico path… in which case…you’re absolutely right and you should just have your bestest friends draw straws to see who should get the honor of putting you down. Y’know… in a kinda ‘It’s for your own good’ way. (chuckle to self – which is the opposite of lol)

        Did you get this one? – http://www.ted.com/talks/zahra_langhi_why_libya_s_revolution_didn_t_work_and_what_might.html

  6. Pingback: The Dancing Queen | Dorothy Recovers

  7. Love this one! You have such an amazing ability to be so funny- with your wonderfully worded observations, and truthful self-analasis(that also tend to describe the rest of us).
    I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know you are writing, and putting it all out there for us lucky readers to enjoy! I can’t wait for you to sign a book-deal and then get the movie going…
    i’ve never done the drunken plane ride thing. mostly it seems like a major buzz-kill to be stuck in such a small space, having to get to & use the stinky and minuscule bathroom, and then waiting my turn to get off the damn plane (i’m not a patient drunk).
    i’ve got my own ways of dealing with air travel, which i can’t share for fear of “jinxing” them. you understand, right?
    xo- candice

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Candice. I’m sure glad I’m writing, too. Although, the process of writing isn’t always fun. In fact, it’s almost always a very unpleasant time for me, and anyone unfortunate to be around me. And I’m not always pleased with the results. And I don’t make any money from it. And it hasn’t opened any doors. And it’s taken on my mental and emotional health. And hasn’t brought me any lasting peace, joy, or satisfaction, but has added constant worrying and second-guessing.
      It’s still great to be writing again.
      See you soon,
      PS Does your secret method for dealing with air travel come in 5 and 10 mg doses? Just being nosy.

  8. i love the rhythm of your rant.
    are you sure doors haven’t opened? you might just be in another part of the house…and the $$-thing, well, i think its a bit overrated, except when you have to pay your rent. and, i bet a lot of your other complaints (lack of lasting peace, joy, satisfaction, and constant worrying and second-guessing) would still exist, even if you weren’t writing, right? so keep doing it because it makes others happy & probably its good for you (most un-fun things are!).
    xo, candice
    ps. no, my secret method doesn’t come in 5 & 10mg doses. think prayer beads and the estimation of small children & the elderly on board that would be too cruel to eliminate superstition.

    • Well Candice, unfortunately, you make perfect sense. Of course writing won’t make me happy. Only a brand new jet ski can do that. I forget sometimes. My priorities. My values. What really matters. It all goes out the window when I start feeling sorry for myself.
      Hmm…that’s actually making me feel sorry for myself.
      Here we go again. See? I don’t know where the meth-head carny that runs this carousel ran off to, but I’d like off now.
      Anyway, thanks for the sage soothing and reality hip-check into the boards, Ms. Peck. I’m okay now. Well…my version.
      Love and kishes,

      • Well, there’s really no crime in feeling sorry for oneself. I know this is not a popular POV, but I just have to say it.
        You just DON’T have to believe it; not thoroughly anyway.
        Just know that downs and adrifts are just going to happen… you don’t have to actually (and I know you’re kidding about this…mostly…) have to have an opinion (read: judgement) about your opinion/judgement.

        It’s like that little wisegurl says in that song… “It’s Just a Ride.”

        Hey! I mastered that one quite some time ago… Being down on myself for being down, that is. Man! I could ride my fuckin rails about having a bad mood…which is SOOO very kool, because I’d discovered a way to augment the whole thing… a direct mainline hit on how to create an abundance of poverty, shame, vindication… anything negative – I could conjure in triplicate, decawhatever… MORE! YEAH!

        Now I’m older an just don’t dig it the same way. Sad. Yes?

        Well, actually, literally, not so much….

        lolololololol !

      • Frater,
        Amazing how I can compound something simple like feeling a little down into evidence that I am a complete and utter failure at life. I can parlay any minor discomfort into gargantuan suffering…and, dare I use the word? “shame.” It’s downright magic.
        Speaking of magic, I got a call from Marko today for a little AM pow-wow. He recently told his employers that he wants to cut down to four days, and they were not happy. Previous to this, they were riding his ass for all kinds of small shit. Now that they know he’s trying to escape, they’re being all lovey-dovey. Big shift in the dynamics of power. Like magic, eh?
        I’m really happy for him. He was locked into a serious hate/dread mode with that job, but couldn’t afford to just quit it completely. So I suggested he start prying the fingers away from his throat, one at a time.
        Such a revolutionary concept for me, this incremental process thing. It was always all or nothing, and somehow I always wound up with the worst of both.

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