Wednesday Again

Me, Myself, I

PREFACE: To Make a Long Story….well, a Long Story with A Warning

Before you get too involved in what you are reading (as if I could hope that anyone gets involved in what I write anyway), I am dropping a little warning on everyone: I intend this particular essay – because that is the only thing this can be called – to be very, very long. If you don’t have a lot of caffeine in your system, I suggest you take this in in sections.

I am writing this with the intentions that I will explain myself fully. Everything that I feel is important I will spill out onto this page. (And feel free to start counting the “I’s”….ten, so far.)

I realized a couple of hours ago that in the two-plus months I’ve been doing this, with the exception of my little bio paragraph at the bottom of the page, I have never really introduced myself. It was a natural progression from this thought to another: in my short nineteen years on this planet, I haven’t really properly introduced myself to anyone – not my best freinds….not my worst enemies…..and not even to my adoring public (all three of you).

I once said that this column was – at best – free therapy. With that in mind:

I (I’m writing in Roman numerals, you guys….)

As it says below, I was born in New Jersey. No place special – Engelwood Cliffs – born there, never had the opportunity to go back. It is a town most notable for being where most high-school level books are printed (just look on the inside cover….I swear at least one of them was made there).

Had a most uneventful life for quite a long time. Went to kindergarten, got my ass kicked by the bigger kids on the playground, bowed down to them in time….basically learned my place early on. I was the kid to knock down when there was no one left to knock down. Happily, once I got around to sixth or seventh grade there were a few kids even lower on the totem pole than me.

It just occured to me that most people, when faced with the thought of New Jersey, resort to that ancient joke about the Turnpike Exit. I haven’t lived in New Jersey for six years now, but I still remember my exit: 148. To the right of the exit ramp was (and maybe continues to be, I don’t know) the best greasy spoon diner anywhere in the world. It was reputed that they served you your breakfast on the hot griddle it was cooked on. That seems to be the prevailing trend in New Jersey – lets be as dirty and dangerous as possible just so we don’t have to pay a dishwasher.

As hard as I try to look back on my childhood with glee, I just get a mental picture of a retarded blond boy falling down everywhere and generally making a fool of himself everytime I think of myself. I wasn’t just an idiot – I seemed to be completely unteachable. I would get jumped by neighborhood kids, get some rocks thrown at my face for good measure……and, sure as fuck, it would happen again. Maybe not the next week…..but maybe the one after that. Or maybe a month down the line, when the bullies ran out of losers to pick off…they would inevitably come to me. I was easy pickings (for the longest time, I lived next to my elementary school – not hard to find) and once I was found, I didn’t do a goddamned thing to stop getting a beat-down.

Sooooo…..grade school (and, for what it’s worth, middle school, too) wasn’t really heaven for me. What did I do to deal with all of this outside stress? Did I turn to yoga? Did I control my diet so as not to harm any living creatures and hence clean my soul? Did I get all wiggy with therapy and such? Or maybe I just started to use the mantra as a way to clear my mind and focus on the important things…….riiight.

I WAS TWELVE. I did what any other consciously-rebelling young teen would have done. I started breaking shit.

II: Feels Like Breakin’ Shit

My long and prosperous career in the field of breakin’ shit started right around the time another somewhat large event unfolded; whether or not they are connected is entirely up to you.

When I was eight or so, my mother recieved her death warrent, in the form of a blood test. Some random guy she decided to do the horizontal bop (ugh, picturing parents and sex, ugh) with turned out to be a junkie – just enough of one so no one at work would notice, and also just enough of one to share one too many needles.

She got a call from an ancient friend from this gentleman’s funeral, suggesting she might want to find out how long she had to live. She did, by way of her mother – my grandma – who happened to be a nurse for a local drug company. After a blood-test, it was finalized. All told it was a tumultuous couple of weeks, what with the entire family involved.

The self-assured doctors told her from that point on, she was living on borrowed time. She did not find humour or comfort in this, but somehow managed to hang on for quite awhile. Eight years (if memory serves) after being diagnosed with HIV, she died in a hospital in Newark, just a couple weeks after Kurt Cobain.

I honestly don’t remember much of that year, or of the years before. That is, quite possibly, my mind’s only trick to keep me on my feet. Despite the game-face my mother put on for those eight or so years, I do remember always wanting company to be over for dinner and such – because when there were people over, she would always have to fake it some more; ignore that pending death sentence some more, smile some more, don’t bother harping on impending doom anymore. All told, it was probably “a bad patch”, as the old folks say.

And, after 1994, I dealt with what I had left in a way that so many other teenagers have: destruction. There were so many forms – fire, explosion, crushing, pulling, tearing, and just plain breakin’ shit.

My first real experience came with a lucky find in the garbage (and yes, assholes, I am to this day an avid garbage picker – go on the right day, in the right neighborhood, and you can find a million dollars in the trash). Walking home from Saturday School – my school’s version of the Breakfast Club – my eye was caught by something poking its way out of the bushes. Turns out to be a gigantic Ampeg guitar amp, with the vaccuum tubes intact and everything.

Thinking of all the times my uncle threw my drum-set out, whole, in the street, I decided to cut and run with this fabulous find before some skulking 20-year-old-pothead came outside to reclaim his fortune.

When I got home, some ten long blocks down the street, I realized something that turned out to be quite important:

I didn’t play guitar.

I mean, it was a good find and all, but, in reality, I was lugging a fifty pound piece of equipment home for no reason at all. I had no guitar. At that point I knew one kid who even played guitar, and I didn’t even go to school with him anymore.

What was a boy to do?

Standing outside my house, amp at my feet, I let that little voice take over: “You don’t need this amp. You don’t want to take it all that way back, do you? See that fire hydrant over there? If you picked up this amp with all your might and heaved the speaker right over the top of the hydrant, don’t you think it would impale itself?”

And, of course, it did. It was such a rush to get that piece of crap up in the air and utterly destroy the speaker that I immediately did it again – with even better results. This time, not only did the amp impale itself all the way through – but it completely fell apart at the seams.

After that incident, there was no stopping me.

Fire was good, “it was a pleasure to burn,” and all that, and committing random acts of breaking and entering (usually abandoned factories or apartment building basements) also had their rewards…..not in the least being the treasure one found inside. I furnished my room with books from abandoned storage bins in the cellars of decrepit residence homes… kicked off the roof (not literally, but chased onto the fire escape, anyway) of some three or four apartment buildings in my neighborhood… caught by the cops at least once in there somewhere……but nothing was as pleasing as pure destruction.

III (The Sun still Shines at 4:20 in the morning)

After some of the more infamous crimes and capers (more like just capers….I was never really a criminal), my family decided it would be best to take me to Florida, where I would soak up the sunlight, start dating a supermodel and surf until I couldn’t stand up straight. What did I end up doing in Florida?


I can say that, for all things I have now, for all the person that I am, Florida only did one really excellent thing for me: introduce me to the wonderful world of better living through chemistry, wonderful pills and elixirs such as Zoloft and Xanex, and of course Valium and Prozac. I took ‘em all. In fact, I took ‘em all over the course of a manic three day binge that left me shaky at the knees. I couldn’t stand up, all right, but it wasn’t from catching too many waves.

After that nasty stretch of road, I decided to stick to what I knew- pot. Pot, pot, pot and more pot. Three times a day (and that was when I had work and school – more like five or six marathon sessions when I had nothing to do all day) for two years straight. Wake ‘n’ Bake on Sunday mornings when there was nothing to do but pop in a Lance Henriksen movie, maybe Near Dark, maybe Aliens if I was in the mood. On top of all that, I am proud to say that I once skipped work on April 20th, 1999, because of a 4/20 bar-be-que (for those of you not so inclined, 4/20 is like the stoners mantra…..smoke at four-twenty in the afternoon, smoke again at 4:20 am….get high at school and set all the clocks to 4:20 and unplug them) – all in all, I became a true stoner.

And what would you like to hear now? That I’ve thrown off the horrible habit and endured those painful marijuna withdrawal side-effects to come out clean on the other side? That I have discontinued the pollution of my body with harmful chemicals and toxins? Oh, yeah ….it’s been a whole THREE DAYS since I last smoked.

FUCK OFF, BASTARDS. I actually quit smoking pot for a year, but only then because I had no money to pay for my two-quarter-bags-in-a-week habit. If I was smart, I would discontinue the cigarettes (you know, the things that feel sooooo good but are soooo bad for ya) and use that five-dollar-a-day habit towards something a little more useful. Like a bagful of weed.

But no, the story continues on, and nothing ever changes.

IV: The Last Chapter (Whew!)

So, after numerous debacles and debates, after numerous confrontations with The Man, after sooo many close calls and murderous glances, after sooooooo many insane nights wrapped up into an easily accessible form of 01010101010101010101010101010101……what do I do now?

Edward S. Sofield

Majestic, LTD.

1641 Melville Ave #3F

Bronx, NY 10460

p.s. – thanks to Matt Mahaffey for his unknowing use of song and album titles throughout – “Feels Like Breakin’ Shit” and “Wednesday Again.”

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