I drink too much.

The way I know this is because I often spend Sunday in my living room with the shades drawn, unable to do much more than watch movies and play around on the Internet. Also, my insides hurt.

The problem with stopping is I don’t feel like it. Well, on Sunday I tell myself I’ve had enough, and I abstain until Thursday or Friday, but then one of my buddies calls and says Let’s go, man and by then I’m feeling well enough to start the cycle over again.

I’ve never felt a craving for alcohol, or a thirst, not the way I’ve heard it described. I’m just bored. I didn’t even start drinking until my 30s. When I read literature on alcoholism, it explains how alcoholics have difficulty feeling pleasure because they’re addicted to the dopamine high they get from drinking. Regular activities that normally induce pleasure don’t cut it anymore, not compared to alcohol. But the thing is, I was already bored before I started drinking.

In college I tinkered with screenplays and finished a few, and several years ago I found an agent. He took my newest script and convinced a well-known producer to buy an option on it. I remember the joy I felt when my agent called with the news. Alcohol never made me feel like that. Ever. So I do know I’m at least capable of strong emotions. But it’s not like I get a call like that every week, you know?

One of the things I hate most in the world is fishing. Because of all the waiting you have to do. My screenwriting career is like a fishing trip where I got a bite on the first cast and then spent the next four years staring at a cork. A cork that doesn’t move. That doesn’t even wiggle.

And what do fisherman usually do while they’re waiting for a bite? Why, they drink, of course. Ask any angler and he’ll tell you…drinking is half the point of fishing.

This is my first post on this site and I feel funny writing about something so personal. I tinkered with other ideas but I kept coming back to this. I know it’s a very whiny essay about a problem for which the solution is obvious: stop drinking. But what I wonder is why I should stop. Why should anyone stop doing something they enjoy?

Recently I had been out drinking, and at the end of the night I was far too drunk to drive my car home. I called a cab, but after thirty minutes it still hadn’t showed up, and I fell asleep in my car. Sometime later I heard a knock on my window and saw a cop standing there. I had no idea there was a law where being drunk in your car and having possession of your keys carries the same penalty as actually driving your car under the influence. This seems pretty harsh to me, since the whole idea of DUI laws is to keep drunk drivers off the road. Anyway, my license was suspended, and I ended having to go to a class with a bunch of alcohol and drug offenders. The terrible experience of being in that class is the subject of another essay, but the reason I bring it up now is because one part of the course involved a series of questions the student should ask himself.

Is my work suffering because of my alcohol consumption? Has anyone besides me been adversely affected by my drinking? My family? My friends? What sort of penalties have I faced as a result of my arrest? Et cetera.

In my case, other than the sheer embarrassment of being taken to jail and having to sit in that class, the only penalties were monetary. My family doesn’t know anything about it. I was married once but I’m not anymore, and I don’t have any children, so the only person affected was me.

You could make the argument that my quality of life would be higher if I didn’t drink, or that I would live longer, but I guess what I’m asking is why those things are necessarily better. Almost everyone would agree they are better, but everyone used to believe the Sun orbited the Earth, too. Just because it’s the prevailing opinion doesn’t necessarily make it the right one.

I suppose living a good and honest life should get me to Heaven, but I got sick of listening to my priest and the Pope condemn homosexuality, so I stopped going to Mass. And besides, if you’re looking for examples of healthy living, the Bible isn’t really the place to turn.

Substance abuse of any sort carries consequences. I know this. The thing is, I see abuse around me everywhere. I see people taking painkillers recreationally. I see them addicted to prescription sleeping pills. And if it isn’t drugs, it’s food. If it isn’t food, it’s television. In fact I wonder if television isn’t the most destructive substance of all.

These problems are particularly bad in the United States. Here we are, the land of opportunity, wealthy like few populations on earth, and yet we act as though we’re miserable. More than 70 percent of us are overweight. In 2008 the World Health Organization surveyed legal and illegal drug use in 17 countries and found Americans led the world in marijuana, tobacco, and cocaine use. Interestingly, countries with far less stringent drug laws also experience far less use. Although it turns out our alcohol consumption is fairly mundane compared to plenty of nations in Western Europe.

Quoting statistics about substance abuse doesn’t excuse my own. But it does make me wonder what it is about the United States that makes her citizens so desperate to alter their own perceptions. Why isn’t the real world good enough? What exactly are we looking for?

The drugs are only going to get stronger. One day, reality television and video games are going to overlap, and I have a feeling what emerges will be the strongest drug of all.

Maybe then I won’t be so bored anymore.

Hey, haven’t you done all this already?

Promote Pill Head? Yes, but that was for the hardcover, and I don’t know anyone who would pay $25 for a book. Now that it’s in paperback, I’m trying to reach a whole new group of readers. Although I think people will gravitate more towards the sexy new cover than the discounted price tag.


Oh, hells yeah! Who is that?

That’s the dreamy and talented singer Chris Garneau, who was sweet enough to sit for this photo.


Do you wish you looked like him, and that was really you on the cover??

Yes. Next question.


Are you on pills right now?

Just Wellbutrin. And a multi-vitamin.


Has staying off of painkillers been hard?

Imagine waging war against your brain every single day.


I thought it was supposed to get easier after time?

Yeah, that’s what they told me too.


That sounds dark!

No, no! Everything is fine, it’s just that I’m surprised it’s still a struggle.


At least you’re not an alcoholic.

I know. I think alcoholics actually have it much, much worse than me. There’s temptation on every corner and at every social gathering! If people were serving pills in tiny cups on silver platters at every party I went to, well, I guess I’d be super relaxed. And then dead.


What do you do for money these days?

I work full time at a magazine again and spend the paychecks hunting down my childhood toys on eBay. I fantasize a lot about the days when I used to roll out of bed and write for four straight hours.


So you aren’t writing anything now?

I’m “working” on two projects, which means I jot down notes about them in a Moleskin notebook on the subway to and from work.


That sounds like you’re being LAZY.

I keep telling myself I’ll get up at 6 AM and write before work, but I can’t seem to make that happen. Does that mean I don’t want it bad enough?


Yes.

Fuck you, you don’t know what I want.


Oh, I think I do.

Well?


You want to win the lottery. You want an instant cash infusion that will enable you to quit your job and write whenever you want. You want to pay someone else to clean the house because if you find one more giant tuft of hair on the floor you might just take the clippers to your boyfriend’s obscenely fluffy cat.

You make me sound so bougie!


Don’t fight it. What are you reading right now?

“The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll.”


Oh, how apt.

What’s that supposed to mean?


Never mind.

PSSST, TAKE SOME PILLS!


Who was that?!?!

I thought it was you!!


No way, I’d never say that!

IT’S JUST ME GUYS, RELAXXXXXXX.


Your inner demon sounds just like James Duval in The Doom Generation.

I know, I know. It’s such a cliché.

SERIOUSLY DUDE, ONE FUCKING DILAUDID ISN’T GONNA HURT YOU. YOU WON’T EVEN FEEEEEL ANYTHING MAJOR, I BET. IT’LL JUST KEEP ALL THOSE OTHER VOICES QUIET FOR AWHILE.


Wait, you’ve got others???

Yeah. I don’t think there are many seats left in here.


Who’s your favorite?

Probably the one who sounds like Sir Hiss, the snake from Disney’s version of Robin Hood.


What does he tell you?

It’s not about what he says, it’s how he says it – he’s got this lilting voice with lots of extended ssssssssssssss sounds. Sometimes when a person is talking to me, I’ll accidentally space out and he’ll start repeating everything they’re saying in my head, but in his gay snake voice.


I think maybe you should have someone edit this before you send it in.

Too late, I left it to the last minute.


Any last words?

Yes. Please buy my book, because when I ran into my editor the other night she told me that the one title of hers that is selling like crazy right now is Skinny Italian, by Teresa from the Real Housewives of New Jersey. And I openly wept in the aisles of Whole Foods.


You should have called your book Skinny Pill Head.

I was thinking the exact same thing.