@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Devices and Vices
There are times I will go some time without a lick of booze or a puff of weed without even trying or thinking about it. Wrapped up in work or activities that I don’t feel will be amplified by such things. When my brain won’t pester me with overlapping thoughts nor will I feel estranged in a social situation.
Then, there are times I have to set goals to detox in sobriety and by the third day I’m yearning for a drink or joint. Unable to relax. Unable to not be consumed by a worried and imaginative mind, craving consumption.
Are we nothing but slaves to our vices? From our first addiction, sugar. To our adult addiction, sex. And everything in-between. Be it alcohol, mary jane, harder drugs, psychedelic drugs, video games, gambling, social media, instant gratification, adulation, the need to be accepted at the cost of who we are? What are your vices? What are mine?
My healthiest vice is surfing. And writing. Both of those things are difficult to do well, if at all. Both of those things are done best when you are well rested and not inherbriated. Both of those things I’d rather die than live without. I’m far from a good enough surfer to make money off of it, so I went with writing. Surely this craft and art could pay my bills? Surely I could become good enough, recognized enough, and live this life with purpose and fulfillment?
Though, I feared it back then, and I fear it now, I may be one of those people who are not satisfied. That I am greedy. Lustful. A lush. Thirsty for the drink. Thirsty for adventure. Thirsty to be desired. If life does not meet my expectation, I could bring myself down to the world and get high all the time. For you will find me in perfect bliss in a dark movie theater, alone, high on an edible on a cinematic adventure. Lost in a someone else’s story. Relating my own. Only during the credits do I dream of what may be a pipe dream of seeing “written by Lori Palminteri” float across the screen.
I know well enough that when I am using substance to treat or numb something that that is when I need a break. Drugs, I believe whole heartedly, are only bad when your relationship with them is bad. People are this way too. A person can be a drug that’s bad for you— even if they are a good person. If your relationship with them isn’t good, then they are your vice.
Likely, I’m probably not as bad as most millennials when it comes to device addiction. Yes, I spend far too much time looking at my phone and when I get the weekly update on how much I’ve used my phone, I cringe. Furthermore, it breaks my heart to see my young nephew and niece already using their devices as vices. Not that they’re alone. All these kids are. I’m glad I didn’t have an iPad as a kid. I’m glad I was born when I was and didn’t have such a distraction to take me away from present living in my youth, when you don’t realize just how precious and fleeting the time you are a kid is.
Still, I’m not on a high horse. I fall prey to the time killing on the device when I should be doing something else. I mean anything else. Writing. Exercising. Fuck, even meditating. Like everyone else, I’m a creature of habit. And that’s all we are, I fear. The sum of our habits. I do not begrudge people for chasing pleasure or even just numbing pain. How could I? My bandwidth for empathy is greater than most and surely I am guilty of the same.
I defend drugs quite frequently. Western medicine, of course, is the reason most of us are still even alive. I’m certain you would not be reading anything written by me at 34 if it weren’t for modern science. Furthermore, I defend my consumption of alcohol or weed. Of course, I’d caution anyone who is a bad drunk or has a family history of not handling such things. But when someone bashes people for partaking in drinking, I’d like to remind them that I probably never would have done anything without alcohol. I would have never gone to parties. I would have never dated. I would have barely socialized. I would have been trapped inside myself. This form of liquid release is a substance I’ve literally overdosed on, but I genuinely feel like it’s improved my life more than it’s hurt it.
That doesn’t mean I don’t question my relationship with my love for getting fucked up. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes wonder if there are anonymous meetings in my future. That doesn’t mean I don’t walk the line of fun and danger. For sure, I’m not the first writer who’s muse is the bottle, nor will I be the last.
It’s true I’ve never smoked a cigarette. Not even once. Not even a drag. This was mostly for my mom, who deplored cigarettes. Plus, I knew early on I had/have an addictive personality. If I started, I probably would be a pack a day type person. I know former heroin and crack addicts who say it was harder to quit cigarettes than those drugs. Plus, making out with someone who smokes is truly gross. The cliche my mom always said, “it’s like kissing an ash tray,” is not wrong. It’s a major turn off for me and a potential deal breaker.
My personal relationship with my phone is a complicated one. Because I’m a writer and comedian, I literally have to be plugged into social media on the regular. It can be undeniably unhealthy and lead to feelings of worthlessness and FOMO. I only have games on my phone that are “brain teasers” so to exercise my memory or intelligence. I’ve never played Candy Crush. Almost all of us use our devices as vices. It was inevitable. However, I think being aware of it means you can help remove yourself from it and live in the present.
Almost anything can be good or bad for you. Moderation. It’s always been the key. Your vices should not prevent you from doing what you love or distract you from being with who you love. I mean really being with them. Engaging and not just beside them. Sometimes our vices bring us together. There are few things I love more than drinking with friends and family, and maybe playing a card game. You know you’re engaged and there in the moment when you are laughing and the people are laughing there with you.
So when I wonder if my vices and devices are problems for me, the honest answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes they increase my quality of life, sometimes they decrease it. Maybe the wise poet Homer, no not the Ancient Greek Guy— Simpson, was right when he said, “I have a drinking solution.”