Flying but Not Too Deep

Postcards from Hell by Victoria Lansford

Mixed media on wood; 10" x 12"
The eye in this collage is printed with a hand carved, partial self portrait, rubber stamp.

My teenage son, Skyler, and I have been having frank and open conversations about drugs for years.  Somewhat ironically, this outside the box, live and let live, hippy child of ours has been about as intollerant of drugs and drug use as Nancy Regan.  In fact, he's expressed such adamant opions that his dad and I worry, afraid when he's older that he'll backlash like a conservative politician or fundamentalist religious leader, who ends up indicted for the very sin against which s/he preached.

A few years ago after Skyler watched an episode of Deadliest Catch in which Captain Phil Harris's son confessed to being an addict and stealing his dad's prescription pain killers, I spent more than an hour explaining to my son that in taking 2 Advil for tendonitis I wasn't abusing pain meds or in danger of becoming addicted to anything.  Like I said, intollerant in the extreme.

Maybe he's heard us tell one too many times the story of when he was five and was given morphine after surgery for a broken arm.  When my ex-husband kept nagging and sniping at the poor kid for breaking his arm by jumping off the deck while trying to fly (literally, fly) my son turned and gave him the biggest rasberries ever in the history of wagging tongues and sprayed saliva.  (I was a seriously proud parent in that moment!)

I guess he gets his aversion to drugs, both legal and not, from me.  Being a canary in the proverbial coal mine, I avoid taking medications until they are absolutely necessary because I'm so suseptable to side effects.  Not the "may cause" list at the top of the pharmacy print out, I'm talking the fine print at the bottom, the ".02% of people experienced" list with the really weird stuff.  Certain synthetic antibiotics make me hallucinate.  Seriously, 12" milipeded type insects crawing on the walls kinds of hallucinations. Not my idea of a good time.

So after 2 weeks of acute bronchitis, followed by 3 days of an edless barking sounding cough that went on so long as to make me toss my cookies repeatedly, I showed Skyler the bottle of hydrocodone cough syrup my doctor prescribed (I can't take codeine) and said, "This is your mother... This is your mother about to be on drugs..."

"That's nice dear," said my son in his best Donna Reid/June Cleaver voice.  Immediately he went back to playing Grand Theft Auto, a video game in which players can buy marijuana for "medical use." Maybe he's mellowed a touch though hopefully not too much.

Wary of the side effects, I took half the instructed dose, and I was flying within 6 minutes.  For a workaholic creative like me, few things are as boring as being sick and laid up in bed for days on end.  So soaring or not, I grabbed my lifeline (my iPad), and the app, Sage, caught my eye.  Sage, a truly brilliant cross between a game of Memory and the I-Ching, is an oracle of divination except it's totally made up by my favorite trickster, Nick Bantock. Think Jungian metaphor meets a Magic 8 Ball, now that's my idea of a good time.

I hadn't played the game in a while.  Perhaps the app icon caught my eye because I've been reeading Nick's recent facebook entries.  What fun, I thought, to play it while "in flight."  I couldn't have been more wrong.

Sage's ability to answer life's heavy questions relies on the player to delve into metaphor.  Nick describes it as "sense within nonsense."  Normally, I marvel at the synchronicity of that "nonsense" to be quite thought provoking. Being stoned, however, made my brain quite incapable of reading meaning into anything.  I was lightheaded and blissfully not coughing for a whole 20 minutes, but I was in a dull, flat, literal mode.  I gave up and started reading the news instead (something I normally avoid at all costs).

I guess I'm not cut out to be a Coleridge, inspired by opium or it's synthetic cousin.  Inspiration for me may depend on altered states, but these states require things like music, perfect mochas in just the right coffee bar, and something blue and something shiny like ground pigments, mica, Koroit opals, or non ferrous metals.

"You need to be in control," my husband said with a smirk.

"No, Rush Limbaugh is a scrip junky, who needs to be in control.  Please don't compare me with an idiot like that."

"No, not in control of other people, in control of your faculties."

"Hmm, true."  He has a point. 

Ironically, the next morning I finished a murder mystery in which one victim was done in by cough syrup. Alas though, to appease everyone who insisted I needed sleep without waking every 15 minutes to cough up a lung (and they were right), I took another 1/2 dose of the stuff that night.  I now save metaphors and creativity for different altered states, ones that involve chocolate.

At a recent detal appointment, Skyler tried nitrous oxide before the tooth filling began.  He freaked out.  "Nothing sounds right!  Nothing feels right!"  He opted to skip the gas and coped just fine with all the drilling, which, I fully admit, is more than I could have withstood.

It wouldn't be the first time my son has intuitively understood something important that is beyond his years of experience.

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